The Number Ones: USA For Africa’s “We Are The World”

The Number Ones: USA For Africa’s “We Are The World”

| September 28, 2020 – 9:13 am

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.


USA For Africa – “We Are The World”

HIT #1: April 13, 1985

STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks

Bob Dylan never has had a #1 hit. Dylan remains a pivotal cultural figure and a massively popular performer, and he’s gotten to #2 a couple of times, with 1965’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and 1966’s “Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35.” (“Like A Rolling Stone” is a 10. “Rainy Day Woman” is a 6.) In 1965, the Byrds covered Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and took it to #1. But Dylan himself has never ascended to the top spot.

Bruce Springsteen has never had a #1 hit, either. Springsteen was one of the defining pop stars of the ’80s, and he’ll presumably be back to packing people into arenas as soon as it becomes both safe and culturally acceptable to pack people into arenas. Springsteen has a ton of top-10 singles, and he’s gotten to #2 once, with 1984’s “Dancing In The Dark.” (It’s an 8.) In 1977, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered Springsteen’s “Blinded By The Light” and took it to #1. But Springsteen himself has never ascended to the top spot.

And yet Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have both appeared on a #1 single — the same #1 single. The two of them are responsible for what may be the two silliest moments on “We Are The World,” the noisy and self-congratulatory all-star singalong that became a cultural event in 1985. Dylan and Springsteen don’t make a ton of musical sense on “We Are The World.” Dylan sounds like a frog dying. Springsteen sounds like an angry man shitting out a pinecone. And yet they’re both there, both lending whatever gravitas they can muster to this ridiculous enterprise.

Lots of people are on “We Are The World.” This abundance is the prime selling point of the product — that and whatever guilt relief that record buyers earned when they spent a few bucks on a puffed-up and solemn seven-minute nothing of a song. The cast of characters on “We Are The World,” all of whom assembled into a single recording studio on a single Los Angeles night, is vast and impressive. The backup-singer chorus on “We Are The World” — the teeming mass of singers who don’t even get a chance to sing a solo line — features big stars like Smokey Robinson and Bette Midler and Lindsey Buckingham. The soloists are a parade of most of the biggest names of the day. There was so much talent in that room, and yet it’s all there to make a tranquilizing musical irritant. I’ll never understand it.

The British had the idea first. In 1984, the Boomtown Rats’ Bob Geldof and Ultravox’s Midge Ure put together a big supergroup of mostly-British singers, and they recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” an ooky but well-meaning holiday synthpop ditty. (“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” seems to imply that the hard thing about being African is that there’s no snow? And that without snow, nobody will know it’s Christmas? Weird song.) The single, released under the name Band Aid to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief, sold three million copies in the UK alone. For years, it was the biggest-selling single in UK history. (In the US, it peaked at #13.)

Around the same time, the entertainment-industry legend Harry Belafonte wanted to put together a big benefit concert for famine relief. (Belafonte has never had a single on the Hot 100, but he was at his peak in the years before Billboard started this list. Belafonte’s Calypso, for instance, was the biggest-selling album of 1956, the first year that Billboard kept track of those things.) A couple of days before Christmas 1984, Belafonte called up the high-powered manager Ken Kragen, who suggested that they try instead to come up with an all-star single like “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Kragen lined up his clients Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie first, and he got Quincy Jones to agree to produce it. Richie recruited Stevie Wonder, suggesting that the two of them write it together. Jones asked Michael Jackson if he’d do the song, and Jackson said that he wanted to sing on it and help write it. So Richie and Jackson got together at Jackson’s family’s house in Encino to write the song. (Wonder was busy.) Jackson and Richie spent a week trying to make the song as simple and memorable as possible, and then Jackson surprised both Richie and Quincy Jones with a demo for the track that he’d recorded in a single night.

Jackson and Richie finalized the “We Are The World” lyrics on the night before the recording session. They changed “we’re taking our own lives” to “we’re saving our own lives” so that it wouldn’t sound like they were talking about suicide. They changed “there’s a chance we’re taking” to “there’s a choice we’re making” so that they wouldn’t sound so egotistical.

Meanwhile, Kragen worked his way down the Hot 100, calling everyone he could find and trying to get them to agree to the project. Kragen had the idea to record the song on the same night as the American Music Awards, which were going down in Los Angeles at the end of January. That meant that a ton of stars would be in town that night, but it also meant that Kragen only had a month to get the deal done. Kragen ended up doing too well at recruiting stars; he turned away fading names like John Denver.

Kragen’s two white whales were Bruce Springsteen and Prince. After Kragen badgered Springsteen’s manager into it, Springsteen was down. Prince, on the other hand, thought that the whole thing was wack. He couldn’t see how his voice would work in that all-star cacophany. This wasn’t the way Prince operated. Sheila E., Prince’s friend and collaborator, had agreed to sing in the chorus, and she did her best to get Prince to show up. But Prince went out partying in LA that night instead. Quincy Jones had planned on Prince participating. When Prince no-showed, Huey Lewis, who’d originally been set to sing in the chorus, got bumped up to soloist.

When the stars arrived at the studio that night, they were famously met by a sign that told them to check their egos at the door. Quincy Jones may have been the only producer tough enough to keep everyone in line. Jones mapped out beforehand who would get to sing which lines and taped those lines to mic stands, and he didn’t allow for any arguments over who would sing what. In his notorious 2018 Vulture interview, Jones told a story about how Cyndi Lauper tried to start some kind of rebellion:

She had a manager come over to me and say, “The rockers don’t like the song.” I know how that shit works. We went to see Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, and all those cats and they said, “We love the song.” So I said [to Lauper], “OK, you can just get your shit over with and leave.” And she was fucking up every take because her necklace or bracelet was rattling in the microphone. It was just her that had a problem.

There are other fun stories from the night of the session. There’s Michael Jackson hiding in the bathroom. There’s Stevie Wonder joking that he and Ray Charles would drive everyone home if it took too long. There’s Wonder suggesting that everyone replace the nonsense syllables at the end of the song with some words in Swahili, and then there’s Waylon Jennings flat-out refusing to sing in Swahili. (They went with “one world, our children” instead.) There’s Billy Joel getting starstruck at seeing Ray Charles, and then Bob Dylan silently snubbing a gushing Al Jarreau, leaving Jarreau sobbing. (A lot of those stories are in this great Independent feature.)

Because I’m a hopeless completist doofus about things like this: Al Jarreau is one of only five soloists on “We Are The World” who never scored a #1 single of his own. Jarreau, in fact, never had a top-10 hit. His highest-charting single is 1981’s “We’re In This Love Together,” which peaked at #15. Willie Nelson’s two highest-charting singles, 1982’s “Always On My Mind” and the 1984 Julio Iglesias duet “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” both peaked at #5. (“Always On My Mind” is a 10. “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” is a 5.) As the frontman of Journey, Steve Perry’s highest-charting single is 1982’s “Open Arms,” which peaked at #2. (It’s a 7.) As a solo artist, Perry’s highest-charting single is 1984’s “Oh Sherrie,” which peaked at #3. (It’s another 7.) We’ve already been over Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

It’s fun to think about all these people getting together in the same room for the same all-night session, to imagine all the weird conversations that people must’ve had. It’s fun to think about Harry Belafonte in the chorus, beholding what he’d wrought while standing next to Dan Aykroyd, also in the chorus for some mysterious reason. It’s fun to see the weird little harmonizing pairs: Paul Simon and Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Dionne Warwick. But it’s not any fucking fun at all to listen to “We Are The World.”

“We Are The World” is a tough hang. It’s a glacial and unending seven-minute ordeal, an ongoing series of stars stepping up to deliver their most anguished and worried wails. Most of them only get a sentence or less, so they put everything they have into singing hot-air platitudes: “It’s time to lend a hand to life, the greatest gift of all.”

The backing-band musicians on “We Are The World” are mostly the same ones who played on Michael Jackson’s Thriller — including Toto’s David Paich, a past chart-topper himself. And yet they bring none of the hard, rippling excitement that you can hear on Thriller. Instead, “We Are The World” is pure musical goo, a shiny rhythmless trudge that’s only there to melt into the background. The focus, instead, is on the singers.

Some of those singers sound pretty great. Whatever her feelings on the song, Lauper howls the absolute fuck out of her one big line, and Jackson himself is sensitively shivery on his solo moment. Some of them, like Dylan and Springsteen, sound like butt. Mostly, though, they’re just a mismatched mass, a big group of people who don’t have any chemistry with one another and who aren’t entirely certain why they’re all there. The song is a chore, and it sounds like one.

“We Are The World” is a song created with the best of intentions in mind. And it did its job. The single sold more than 20 million copies, and it topped charts around the world. There was a companion-piece album, too, and that also sold a few million. (Prince might not have participated in “We Are The World” itself, but he did donate the song “4 The Tears In Your Eyes” to the album.) There were shirts and videocassettes and various other commodities, and the whole thing brought in more than $60 million. And at least as far as I can tell, it looks like most of that money actually went to improve the lives of impoverished people — never a given when it comes to all-star charity affairs like these.

So “We Are The World” accomplished its goals. It did good in the world. USA For Africa is still an operational charity, and it still uses the proceeds from the song to help people. I’m glad. But I hate the song. I hate it so fucking much. Part of it is the song itself — a piece of music that’s both oppressively boring and catchy enough that it continues to oppressively bore me even when I’m not actively listening. But part of it is the self-indulgent nature of the whole enterprise.

I simply don’t get the idea of an initiative like this. If the artists involved in “We Are The World” — or, better yet, their record-label bosses — had donated a couple of percentage points of their annual income around that time, they probably would’ve generated even more money. But that’s not the way we do things. Instead, we make a whole spectacle out of any sort of humanitarian action, turning what could’ve been a simple fundraiser into a giant glittering moment. It grosses me out every time something like this happens.

Maybe we should judge “We Are The World” by what it did — as a collective work of humanitarian empathy, not as a piece of music or a spectacle. As a spectacle, though, it’s an uncomfortably showy display. And as a piece of music, it sucks shit.

“We Are The World” went on to win Grammys for both Record and Song Of The Year, and it pulled in trophies at all the other big awards shows too. And then there were copycats. In 1986, Ken Kragen tried to corral more big stars into raising money to combat American homelessness with the Hands Across America event, but the big stars didn’t really turn out, and the theme song peaked at #65. A bunch of Canadians — Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, John Candy — came together under the name Northern Lights for a song called “Tears Are Not Enough” than ended up on the We Are The World album. Ronnie James Dio led a crew of metal types on “Stars,” a 1986 song credited to Hear ‘N Aid. Eventually, that same impulse led to all-star rap posse cuts like 1989’s “Self Destruction” and 1990’s “We’re All In The Same Gang.”

My favorite of those all-star charity songs, both aesthetically and philosophically, is “Sun City,” the 1985 song written and organized by the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt. The song protested against South African apartheid, and it made a rallying cry out of refusing to play the South African resort that sometimes booked big stars. “Sun City” had Springsteen and Run-DMC and Joey Ramone and Gil Scott-Heron and Jimmy Cliff and Melle Mel and Bob Dylan and Bono and Bobby Womack and Bonnie Raitt and a lot of other people. Cool lineup! Pretty good song! But compared to “We Are The World,” “Sun City” was a flop, peaking at #38. (On the other hand, African poverty still exists, but South African apartheid doesn’t. So maybe “Sun City” was more successful.)

In 2010, a whole mess of newer superstars came together to raise money for the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake there. They assembled at the same studio for a new version of “We Are The World,” and it was even longer and possibly even more uncomfortable. Crash auteur Paul Haggis directed the video. There was rapping. This new “We Are The World” was, if possible, even more of a well-intentioned mess than the original. “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” peaked at #2. (It’s a 1.)

This year, Lionel Richie talked about doing another version of “We Are The World” for COVID-19 relief. It hasn’t happened, but it did inspire me to write this dumb shit. Unless that version of “We Are The World” comes out — or some other version of the song happens for some other reason — then USA For Africa won’t be in this column again. But Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, James Ingram, Billy Joel, Dionne Warwick, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, and Bette Midler all will.

GRADE: 1/10

BONUS BEATS: Here’s the absolutely savage “We Are The World” parody that In Living Color aired in 1992:

(Jamie Foxx, who plays Lionel Richie in the In Living Color sketch and who would later act as the concerned presenter of the “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” video, will eventually appear in this column as a guest. As lead artist, Jamie Foxx’s highest-charting single is the 2009 T-Pain collab “Blame It,” which peaked at #2. It’s an 8.)

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Master P starting out his 1992 track “Psycho Rhymes” with a “We Are The World” parody:

(Master P’s two highest-charting singles as lead artist, 1998’s “I Got The Hook Up!” and “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!,” both peaked at #16. As a guest-rapper, P’s highest-charting single is Montell Jordan’s “Let’s Ride,” which peaked at #2 in 1998. It’s a 7.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Apparently, 1992 is the year that the world finally turned on “We Are The World.” Here’s the classic riff on the whole celebrity-singalong industrial complex that was part of a great 1992 Simpsons episode:

(As a solo artist, Sting will eventually appear in this column.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Mitch Hedberg using “We Are The World” in a classic stand-up bit on his 2003 album Strategic Grill Locations:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Jimmy Kimmel working a “We Are The World” parody into his viral 2009 bit “Fucking Ben Affleck”:

(I’m not going to get into the highest-charting single of every single motherfucker on “Fucking Ben Affleck,” but Huey Lewis and Meat Loaf will eventually appear in this column. As a member of *NSYNC, Lance Bass will be in here, too.)

THE 10S: Bruce Springsteen’s painfully horny synth-rockabilly slow-burn “I’m On Fire” peaked at #6 behind “We Are The World.” It cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my skull, and it’s a 10.

Watch Members Of Mastodon, Cave In, & Russian Circles Cover Alice In Chains’ “Rain When I Die”

Watch Members Of Mastodon, Cave In, & Russian Circles Cover Alice In Chains’ “Rain When I Die”

| September 28, 2020 – 10:15 am

Two Minutes To Late Night hath returned! During quarantine, the great video series features the comedian Jordan Olds getting together musicians from the interconnected worlds of metal, punk, and hardcore to cover classic songs. Last week, the series took a rare week off. (Olds explained that all the fires on the West Coast were making it hard for musicians out there to participate.) But this week, the series returns, following up tributes to Billy Idol and Robyn and Fleetwood Mac with a salute to Alice In Chains.

Maybe it’s a reflection of some grim and depressing times, but we’ve been seeing a lot of Alice In Chains covers lately, especially from the heavy-music world. In recent months, we’ve posted AIC covers from Code Orange and Thou, and Magnetic Eye just released Dirt (Redux), a cover compilation in which metal bands take on every song from AIC’d bleak 1992 grunge classic Dirt. For their part, the participants in this week’s Two Minutes To Late Night have taken on “Rain When I Die,” quite possibly the heaviest deep cut from Dirt.

In this week’s video, Mastodon’s Brann Dailor plays drums, and he also shares lead-vocal duties with Justin Suitor, of the LA band Painted Wives. Cave In/Mutoid Man frontman Stephen Brodsky does some heroic guitar shredding, and Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan does some heavy riffing. In his Gwarsenio Hall persona, Jordan Olds plays bass. They’ve captured the gut-churning heaviness of the original, and you can watch it and listen to the Alice In Chains track below.

Check out the Two Minutes To Late Night Patreon here.

Idle Hands Changing Name Due To Trademark Law

Idle Hands Changing Name Due To Trademark Law

| September 28, 2020 – 12:58 pm

The Portland metal band Idle Hands, who we named one of the Best New Bands based on last year’s Mana, have announced that they are changing their name due to trademark law. “We are no longer able to perform or record music under the name IDLE HANDS,” bandleader Gabriel Franco wrote in an email newsletter. “We have done everything in our power to retain the name but we can not. While regrettable, these things happen.”

It’s unclear which trademark Idle Hands were deemed to have been violating, though there are a few existing trademarks for the name. We’ve reached out to the band’s representatives for clarification.

For now, the band are selling their remaining merchandise with the Idle Hands name at reduced prices.

The band say that they will announce a new name soon. Suggestions?

Due to US trademark law, we are no longer able to perform or record music under the name IDLE HANDS.

Subsequently, we are liquidating almost all Idle Hands merchandise at extremely reduced prices until sold out

— IDLE HANDS (@idlehandspdx) September 28, 2020

The band released an expanded edition of their 2017 EP Don’t Waste Your Time a few months ago.

Deerhoof Cover 43 Songs In 35 Minutes On Free Surprise Album Love-Lore

Deerhoof Cover 43 Songs In 35 Minutes On Free Surprise Album Love-Lore

| September 28, 2020 – 4:00 pm

Deerhoof have released a dizzying new covers album called Love-Lore that finds the art-rock band covering 43 songs over the course of 35 minutes. The album is available now as a free download over on Deerhoof’s website. It comes on the heels of the band’s latest original album, Future Teenage Cave Artists, which came out in May. They previously reimagined popular culture in their own unique way on 2018’s Deerhoof Plays The Music Of The Shining.

Love-Lore features renditions of songs by Ornette Coleman, the Velvet Underground, Laurie Anderson, Igor Stravinsky, Ennio Morricone, the Police, Sun Ra, Parliament, John Williams, the Beach Boys, Voivod, Silver Apples, Kraftwerk, the B-52s, Dionne Warwick, and many more, and they’re all mangled together like a more analog Girl Talk.

Check out the album and a list of all the songs covered below.

Here’s the tracklist:


Love-Lore is available now on Deerhoof’s website via Joyful Noise Recordings. A limited edition poster of the artwork, which was done by the band’s Satomi Matsuzaki, is also up for order.

Lil Yachty Arrested For Driving 150+ MPH

Lil Yachty Arrested For Driving 150+ MPH

| September 28, 2020 – 6:04 pm

CREDIT: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Revolt

Lil Yachty was recently arrested for driving more than 150 MPH on an Atlanta interstate, as local news station WSB-TV reports. The arrest happened last week on 9/21. Yachty was pulled over driving a white Ferrari and taken to jail, where he was charged with reckless driving and speeding in excess of maximum limits.

Shortly after reports emerged about his arrest, the rapper posted an Instagram captioned “I’m not in jail.”

View this post on Instagram

I’m not in jail

A post shared by ^CONCRETE BOY BOAT^ (@lilyachty) on Sep 28, 2020 at 2:07pm PDT

Back in June, Yachty crashed a red Ferrari on the same interstate in Atlanta after losing control while reportedly speeding on a wet road. He was, thankfully, not seriously injured and did not hurt anyone else. He shared pictures of the wreck on Twitter:


— stealth level boat (@lilyachty) June 23, 2020

Tyler, The Creator Will Vote For The First Time And Wants You To Join Him

Tyler, The Creator Will Vote For The First Time And Wants You To Join Him

| September 28, 2020 – 7:12 pm

We knew Tyler, The Creator was evolving, but it turns out the man is a full-blown responsible adult! We’ve already seen the one-time Odd Future ringleader welcomed into the halls of prestige with Grammys and other awards from the likes of Kodak and the Wall Street Journal. Recently he spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying he didn’t mind damage to his GOLF store in LA during the turmoil over George Floyd’s death. Now he’s gone and published a DIY voting PSA direct to Twitter.

In the video message, Tyler says he’s voting this year for the first time and urges his followers to do the same — at polling stations, specifically, rather than mailing in a ballot and risking some kind of foul play. “I didn’t give a fuck about none of this shit, just like a lot of y’all,” he says. “This is actually going to be my first time voting. But I see the light.”

Read Tyler’s full message below.

Look, I know I’m the last person y’all should ever take advice from, but I’m reiterating what everyone else is saying. And please, please if you are young and your fuckin’ back don’t hurt, go to them polls and cast a fucking vote. And I didn’t give a fuck about none of this shit, just like a lot of y’all. This is actually going to be my first time voting. But I see the light. And a lot of y’all gonna be like, “My vote doesn’t matter and they’re gonna pick who they want.” Yeah, you weird-ass nigga, keep that up. Y’all was postin’ black squares and protestin’ from y’all phone and “rights” this and cancellin’ everybody. Nigga, pull up! Y’all want a new DA? Pull up! Y’all want all these rights and shit then fuckin’ pull up! The shit that I actually give a fuck about is more art in schools and more music classes in schools and then changing the curriculum. They’ve had the same curriculum since, fuck, since 1442, judging everybody on the same shit. And I have female friends who need certain things. And I like being able to fuck on and marry whoever the fuck I want at any given moment. And if we want to keep some of those options, then we have to start somewhere. And I’m not a fuckin’ encyclopedia on this shit, but I know one goddamn thing, that if y’all want any of that, then y’all know what you need to do. Y’all niggas gotta pull up! Actually go to the polls! ‘Cause some of that mail-in shit, niggas gonna try to call fraud, so if you can go to the polls — and I know them lines gon’ be long and it’s gon’ be hot, but please, do that. Alright? It’s hot as fuck, and this was like my third take of this video, and yes: Love.

We’re a long way from “Kill people, burn shit fuck school!”

— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) September 28, 2020

Jeezy To Host Talk Show Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins

Jeezy To Host Talk Show Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins

| September 28, 2020 – 8:31 pm

Today is Jeezy’s 43rd birthday. Happy birthday Jeezy! You’re still Young to me!

To mark the occasion, the Black-focused streaming channel FOX Soul has announced that the Atlanta rap veteran will be launching his own talk show. Worth A Conversation With Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins — yes, he seems to be attempting a Dwayne Johnson-like pivot to his government name — is set to premiere on Oct. 14 at 10PM ET. He joins fellow music star Keyshia Cole, whose own talk show One On One With Keyshia Cole also airs on FOX Soul. As Rap-Up points out, Worth A Conversation will welcome guests to discuss topics important to the Black community including social issues, politics, entertainment, and sports. Presumably these discussions will be punctuated by some of the best ad libs ever.

Jeezy’s official statement on the series:

It has been my passion and my drive to inspire, motivate and educate my culture. Every song I’ve ever written, every word I’ve uttered came from a real place and this is no different. Worth A Conversation is self explanatory. I will talk about issues that directly affect my culture and it’s people. From the front porch conversations to real life situations, Worth A Conversation is bridging the gap. I’m excited to be a part of the FOX Soul family and can’t wait to introduce you to Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins.

Despite the foray into TV, Jeezy has not stopped making music. He recently announced a sequel to his 2008 album The Recession.

Morgan Freeman Announces New 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode 2

Morgan Freeman Announces New 21 Savage & Metro Boomin’s Savage Mode 2

| September 28, 2020 – 9:24 pm

CREDIT: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images for BET

21 Savage became a star largely on the strength of Savage Mode, his 2016 team-up with trap super-producer Metro Boomin. It was a hell of a project, so it pleases me to report that the duo has just announced Savage Mode 2 for release this Friday. I am even more pleased to inform you that the trailer is narrated by Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman.

In director Gibson Hazard’s clip, Freeman reads the following script: “Savage is defined as fierce, beastly, and untamed. Mode is defined as a way of operating or using a system. So to be in savage mode is to go hard, not allowing anything to stop or deter you from your mission. Basically, this means when someone’s in savage mode, they are not to be fucked with.”

Even though 21’s life has thoroughly refuted the premise that he has “No Heart,” this is phenomenal news. We’ve been hurting for a new 21 Savage project for a long time — he hasn’t released anything besides features for other artists since he was arrested by ICE and threatened with deportation in early 2019. I just heard “A Lot” on the radio not two hours ago and thought, damn, I sure could use some new 21 Savage in my life right now. Lo and behold, it’s going down.

Watch the Savage Mode 2 trailer below.

Savage Mode 2 is out 10/2 on Epic.

Amanda Shires – “The Problem” (Feat. Jason Isbell)

Amanda Shires – “The Problem” (Feat. Jason Isbell)

| September 28, 2020 – 9:22 am

Amanda Shires has released a new song, “The Problem,” to coincide with International Safe Abortion Day, with proceeds going to the Yellowhammer Fund, an organization dedicated to reproductive justice in Alabama and the deep South. “The Problem” is a duet with Shires’ husband Jason Isbell and they trade lines back-and-forth before coming together in the chorus: “And all I could think to say was/ “Everything’s going to be okay/ It’s going to be alright I’m on your side.”

“This song is about making tough decisions and not having to go it alone,” Shires said in a press release. Isbell added: “To me, ‘The Problem’ is a song about supporting someone you love through a difficult time. It’s about helping without exerting your own will. I support a woman’s right to choose, and I know these choices are never easy.”

Listen below.

Laura Veirs – “Another Space and Time”

Laura Veirs – “Another Space and Time”

| September 28, 2020 – 9:23 am

The reliably great songwriter Laura Veirs is releasing a new album, My Echo, next month. She’s shared two songs from it so far, “Burn Too Bright” and “Turquoise Walls,” and today she’s sharing the apocalyptically-minded “Another Space And Time,” which is about finding solitude even when it feels like everything is collapsing down around you, which this year it certainly has been. “In another space and time/ When California’s not burning/ And the seas don’t rise/ I’ll meet you there,” she sings.

Veirs had this to say about the song and video:

This is the first time I’ve danced in a music video. I loved dancing in it! It was choreographed by a Portland-based Brazilian dancer named Nelson Euflauzino (who also appears in the video). It was shot by an 18-year old music video director named Twixx Williams. The dancers you see here are friends of mine (not professional dancers). We did all of the rehearsing and shooting socially-distanced and outside over the Covid summer of 2020. The outfits were made by a local stylist named Alethea Dalton (the dress I’m wearing is an old vintage dress owned by Alethea but she made the other dresses).

I love the surrealistic elements that come into play in this video. In these lyrics I desire an escape from the way things are right now. In this “other space and time” California’s NOT burning, people DO have peace of mind, the internet is DEAD (and people are present with each other in real life instead of living on screens). This song is a dream that we can and will live in a more peaceful, loving world – and a world with more personal freedoms, too. I love how these wishes are embodied in the movements of the dancers. We look free and happy because we were!

Watch and listen below.

My Echo is out 10/23 Veirs’ Raven Marching Band label.

Women – “Everyone Is So In Love With You”

Women – “Everyone Is So In Love With You”

| September 28, 2020 – 10:03 am

Ten years ago today, the Calgary post-punk band Women released their sophomore album, Public Strain. The band would break up soon after; their guitarist Chris Reimer passed away two years later. The other members of Women went on to keep making music — half of them formed the group Preoccupations; the other makes music as Cindy Lee — but the memory of Women looms large over those other projects.

Today, Jagjaguwar and Flemish Eye have announced a reissue of 2010’s Public Strain. The new edition of the album will come with a collection called Rarities 2007-2010, which features hard-to-find and unreleased material from the band. The whole five tracks will be available on streaming services at the end of the week, and right now we get to hear the previously unheard song “Everyone Is So In Love With You.”

Check it out below.

01 “Everyone Is So In Love With You”
02 “Bullfight”
03 “Service Animal”
04 “Grey Skies”
05 “Group Transport Hall (Alternate Version)”

Rarities 2007-2010 will be out 10/2 via Jagjaguwar/Flemish Eye. Pre-order it here.

Watch The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle Play An 18-Second Song About His Teacup

Watch The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle Play An 18-Second Song About His Teacup

| September 28, 2020 – 10:47 am

Long before he became an acclaimed literary novelist and the famous-ish frontman of an indie rock institution, the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle was a cult-favorite songwriter. On hard-to-find releases spread across a vast spectrum of DIY labels, Darnielle would crank out vast numbers of fiery lo-fi acoustic songs. Many of those songs were both quite short and quite silly. Darnielle, I am delighted to reports, is still perfectly capable of flexing that muscle.

Right now, the Mountain Goats are getting ready to release the new full-band album Getting Into Knives, which they recorded just before quarantine. We’ve already posted the early singles “As Many Candles As Possible” and “Get Famous.” This will be the second album that the Mountain Goats have released during quarantine. Back in the early days of this whole episode, Darnielle went old-school, writing and recording Songs For Pierre Chuvin by singing straight into a boom box — the way he used to do. And today, Darnielle demonstrated for his Twitter followers just how easy this kind of thing is for him.

On Twitter this morning, Darnielle wrote, “early Mountain Goats days involved lots of songs that were essentially paeans to objects in my immediate environment that delighted me. if this were 1992 I’d have a song called ‘Bomb-Ass Teacup’ by noon.” The idea must’ve stuck in his head, since he had a song called “Bomb-Ass Teacup” by 10AM. It’s 18 seconds long, and it rules. Here it is:


— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) September 28, 2020

This song has already led to a factual answer to Darnielle’s rhetorical question.

people say the internet’s garbage, but twice now I’ve learned stuff I didn’t know about Japanese things just by expressing my pleasure with some stuff in my orbit

— The Mountain Goats (@mountain_goats) September 28, 2020

Getting Into Knives is out 10/23 on Merge. Songs For Pierre Chuvin is out now. “Bomb-Ass Teacup” will probably never get an official release, but I wouldn’t put money on that.

Magik Markers – “Born Dead”

Magik Markers – “Born Dead”

| September 28, 2020 – 10:57 am

Magik Markers are returning with their first new album in six years, 2020, next month, following the release of an EP during the summer. The New England crew have shared two tracks from it so far, “CDROM” and “That Dream (Shitty Beach),” and today they’re back with another one.

“Born Dead” is an affecting simmer that’s filled with subtle touches which push the track to transcendence, like when Elisa Ambrogio sings about ending up in heaven, “dancing to no music/ but some of the bells ring” and little blips echo those imaginary bells. It’s a bittersweet, inevitable love song that places that love on a grand scale: “I was born dead/ For 15 minutes I didn’t breathe,” she mewls in the opening lines. “I was born dead/ Til I met you.”

Listen below.

2020 is out 10/23 via Drag City. Pre-order it here.

Remember Witch House?

Remember Witch House?

| September 28, 2020 – 11:17 am

Witch house was a joke — literally. “2009 was the beginning of the ‘witch house’ style,” Travis Egedy — the Denver-based producer who makes distorted dance music as Pictureplane — told Pitchfork at the end of that year. “Mark our words, 2010 will be straight up witchy.” In the brief blurb, Egedy big-upped several artists in his creative circle as indicative of the witch house aesthetic, a sign at the time that this newly emerged subgenre of electronic music was actually a real thing; a year later, he was singing a different and decidedly un-occult tune. “It was never meant to be an actual genre,” he claimed to The A.V. Club at the close of 2010. “It was a half-assed conceptual joke that really turned into something real.”

Indeed, similar to chillwave — the sneakily influential subgenre of electronic pop that was coined by Carles of the defunct joking-not-joking Hipster Runoff blog and emerged concurrently to witch house’s brief run — witch house went from a goofy joke to a real-deal musical movement practically overnight. The existence of the subgenre was spectral in its brevity, lasting no more than 18 months before most of its practitioners disappeared off the map or moved onto different sounds and styles. The music itself was slight, with few actual lasting works of relevance beyond Midwestern trio Salem’s 2010 debut LP King Night — released 10 years ago today — and the creation of Tri Angle, Robin Carolan’s left-of-center electronic label that shuttered its doors earlier this year.

But beyond a few scattered points of legacy, the micro-phenomenon that was witch house is instructive in understanding how musical trends disseminated in the waning days of indie’s music blog era. Witch house’s aesthetic was established and strictly adhered to from its inception: slowed-down hip-hop rhythms that took direct inspiration from the syrupy sound of late Houston pioneer DJ Screw, glowy synths often ripped directly from trance music and rave culture, the occasional sound effect (i.e. the gunshots that punctuated NYC duo White Ring’s 2010 single “IxC999″), vocals rendered unintelligible either by way of delivery or aural obfuscation.

There were a few indirect precedents for witch house’s sound: the harshed-buzz gothic electro of Crystal Castles, the hauntological techno released by labels like Sandwell District and Modern Love (especially the latter imprint’s founding act Demdike Stare), and the ever-present influence of UK decayed-rave maestro Burial. But Salem’s influence loomed larger on witch house’s pale shadow than any other artist. Arguably, witch house itself wouldn’t have existed at all without them; despite Egedy’s initial coinage of the phrase, few (if any) acts that deigned to adopt the genre tag made records that reflected his punk-ish rave music, instead attempting their own alchemic concoction from Salem’s aural recipe.

Band members Jack Donoghue, Heather Marlatt, and John Holland began attracting underground attention through early EPs released on the typically indie-pop-focused Acéphale imprint, as 2008’s Yes I Smoke Crack and Water from the following year established the sound that the trio would crystallize on King Night. A fascinating and often beautiful amalgam of synth-pop, trance, and hip-hop motifs, the actual music on King Night was largely overshadowed by the controversy they often attracted. There were the terrible live performances, the botched New York Times interviews, and above all else the stench of cultural appropriation that arose from three white artists jacking the aural traditions of hip-hop and, at times, pitching their own voices to a low register.

To the last point, Salem may have been engaging in racial cosplay to a greater extent than was acknowledged at the time: Although it was overlooked in many reviews (including, regrettably, my own), King Night’s penultimate track “Tair” features a vocalist unspooling a druggy tale of criminal exploits that seemingly includes the following couplet: “These niggas calling me, it’d be rude if I don’t go.” The questionably reliable user-contributed lyrics site Genius appears to confirm Salem’s use of the word, but in a statement to Stereogum today, Salem refute that transcription; per the band, the actual lyric is “Think it’s calling me it’d be rude if I don’t go.”

A few factors (hip-hop and R&B becoming the dominant popular musical genres in the US, an increase in the diversity of music writers in the mid-2010s following decades of the form having been dominated by white men) contributed to the topic of cultural appropriation overshadowing the last decade of pop-cultural analysis. But Salem were arguably the first white act in the 2010s to kick off discussion of the ever-relevant issue, and that’s where the trio’s legacy begins and ends. “Never think of this band again,” Christopher Weingarten implored in a Village Voice blog post naming King Night’s “Trapdoor” one of the worst songs of 2010. “I assume [it] won’t be the hardest thing come 2011.” Indeed, after an EP the following year — I’m Still In The Night, which featured a straightforward (for them, anyway) cover of Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” — Salem more or less disappeared for the rest of the decade.

There were a few scattered remixes for the Cult and German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, and Donoghue nabbed a production credit on “Black Skinhead,” a single from Kanye West’s abrasive 2013 LP Yeezus — but otherwise the band remained an inactive concern until re-emerging at the top of this May with a new mix, STAY DOWN, for internet radio station NTS Radio, and releasing a Drain Gang-esque new single “Starfall” complete with footage of the band’s members engaging in some Twister-style storm-chasing.

King Night also marked the end of witch house as an existent genre that artists contributed to. The album’s release had the inverse effect of the oft-cited legend surrounding the Velvet Underground’s first album, as the overall proliferation of off-brand attempts to bottle their magic flatlined almost immediately. The evidence for this is largely anecdotal: During the genre’s lifespan, I ran Pitchfork’s Tracks section, which in its earliest inception served to cherry-pick up-and-coming artists that were highlighted on other music blogs, along with the occasional user submission that passed muster. Pre-King Night, my inbox was flooded with upstart bedroom-production hopefuls barely masking their mimicry, with unpronounceable, Wingdings-esque band names or overly on-the-nose monikers like Mater Suspiria Vision.

But in the months that followed the album’s release, the frequency of similar-sounding submissions became slower than a witch house producer’s BPM of choice; by the middle of 2011, bedroom producers had moved on to attempting replications of James Blake’s dubstep-infused singer-songwriter pop, crystallized on his self-titled debut released at the top of that year. And even though some of witch house’s more notable practitioners kept at it regardless (White Ring remained an active concern with a few different lineups, and their founding vocalist Kendra Malia passed away last year), other entities involved in the genre’s sole wave moved on quickly — including Carolan’s Tri Angle imprint, which featured witch house practitioners like oOoOO (pronounced “oh”), Holy Other, and Balam Acab on some of its earliest releases.

Prior to Tri Angle’s inception, Carolan wrote for 20jazzfunkgreats, a music blog known for highlighting dark, challenging electronic music new and old. More so than their contemporaries, the site and its writers maintained a healthier curiosity beyond mere trend-chasing impulses. And that willingness to break beyond genre carried over to Tri Angle’s curatorial approach, setting it apart from witch house-adjacent imprints of the era like Disaro and Pendu Sound and carrying it to greater success than its peers.

Besides releasing seminal albums from left-of-center artists like How To Dress Well, the Haxan Cloak, and Forest Swords, Tri Angle often flirted with mainstream pop right as mainstream pop’s figureheads started looking towards indie culture. Artists on its roster collaborated with artists ranging from Kanye and A$AP Rocky to Björk and Khalid. At least one of their associated acts became out-and-out pop stars: UK pop duo AlunaGeorge, whose hit single “You Know You Like It” was the title track of their 2012 EP released by the label before moving onto major-label territory.

The fact that Tri Angle achieved a lasting longevity at all seems like a minor miracle when considering the ephemera of the internet culture in which it rose from, and its closing in April felt like the end of an era that had regardless long ceased to exist. Alongside chillwave, the micro-phenomenon of witch house as a logged-on DIY movement has since been unreplicated within indie culture, with much of the grassroots musical movements of the late 2010s taking place squarely in hip-hop’s SoundCloud-situated axis. (The chill-adjacent vaporwave culture comes close, but still hasn’t yet achieved the level of mass music press saturation that chillwave and witch house were awarded.)

That doesn’t necessarily mean the sensation is impossible to replicate, however — on the contrary, we’re more situated for something similar to emerge than ever before. As I theorized last year, both chillwave and witch house emerged from the wake of young people recovering from what was then the biggest economic collapse of their collective lifetime. Structural and direct violence were more visible and normalized through the digital age, jobs were nowhere to be found, and many just-out-of-college post-adolescents found themselves at home with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and sparse wealth beyond what their own imaginations might conjure. Sound familiar? It’s unlikely that whatever musical movement that emerges from the age of COVID-19 will even remotely resemble witch house’s confines — but the micro-movement’s spirit just may well come to haunt us again.

CREDIT: Vallery Jean/WireImage

Bat For Lashes – “We’ve Only Just Begun” (The Carpenters Cover)

Bat For Lashes – “We’ve Only Just Begun” (The Carpenters Cover)

| September 28, 2020 – 11:30 am

Just over a year ago, Bat For Lashes released the lovely and evocative album Lost Girls. Shortly afterward, Natasha Khan followed the album up with a live EP that featured her cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer.” Today, Khan releases another cover of another decades-old pop song. This time, she’s taken on the Carpenters.

The Carpenters released their single “We’ve Only Just Begun” in 1970, back in the smooth-pop duo’s early days. The Carpenters’ labelmate Paul Williams co-wrote “We’ve Only Just Begun” for a bank commercial. Richard Carpenter heard the song, recognized Williams’ voice, and asked if there was a full-length version of the song that the Carpenters could record. The Carpenters took “We’ve Only Just Begun” to #2, and their version remains a classic piece of turn-of-the-’70s kitsch.

But maybe that’s not how Natasha Khan hears it. Bat For Lashes covered “We’ve Only Just Begun” at a few live shows in 2016. Today, Khan has released the studio version of her cover. Khan recorded her version of the song with the London Contemporary Orchestra, but she’s put her voice and piano at the forefront, transforming the song into a sad and stark ballad. Check out Bat For Lashes’ cover and the Carpenters’ original below.

Halcyon Digest Turns 10

Halcyon Digest Turns 10

| September 28, 2020 – 12:01 pm

Do you remember what a thrill it was to immerse yourself in Halcyon Digest? I remember it well — or at least I think I do.

Deerhunter released the album 10 years ago today, and within a few weeks I was completely enthralled with it. Microcastle and Bradford Cox’s magnetic, confrontational stage presence had made me a fan, but Halcyon Digest is what cemented Deerhunter’s place within my personal pantheon of fiercely beloved artists. This was the most mesmerizing, invigorating indie record I’d heard in years — one that swirled together decades of rock history into something visceral and ephemeral all at once, dark and mysterious yet plainly accessible, structurally adventurous while maintaining an unmistakable stylistic imprint. It was the sound of a band ascending to the peak of its powers. It became my favorite album of 2010.

So yes, I remember falling under Halcyon Digest’s spell. I remember it fondly, and judging from the album’s place of prominence within Deerhunter’s discography, so do a lot of other people. But memories can be deceiving. As Cox explained upon Halcyon Digest’s release, its title “is a reference to a collection of fond memories and even invented ones, like my friendship with Ricky Wilson or the fact that I live in an abandoned victorian autoharp factory.” He continued: “The way that we write and rewrite and edit our memories to be a digest version of what we want to remember, and how that’s kind of sad.” Oof. Guilty. By the album’s own measure, then, the true test of Halcyon Digest’s worth is whether it can still evoke such a breathless response all these years later.

It would almost be too perfect if such a vivid, surreal collection of rock songs made a profound impression and then retreated to the edge of consciousness, forever flickering in the recesses of our minds, never to be experienced again. Such is the case with concerts like the Deerhunter show I saw in Cleveland a few weeks after Halcyon Digest dropped. The further I get from the experience, the more it becomes a legend within my own personal history, a transcendent performance that elevated my love of Halcyon Digest to new heights. Was it really so euphoric? It’s hard to say for sure. The album itself remains readily available, though, so I can confirm it still slaps.

Actually, at first, it cracks. Opening song “Earthquake” begins with an almost maddeningly slow electronic beat, a series of thudding depth charges and jarring digital snare hits with nothing but wide open silence in between. The vacuum soon fills with vaporous keyboards and a bleary Cox detailing a startled emergence from slumber: “Do you recall waking up/ On a dirty couch in the gray fog/ And the gray dog barking down the street?/ Columns shake your feet beneath your feet.” He sounds like he’s just waking up himself. But given the dreamy fog that hangs over most of the album, he could just as easily be heading the other direction, drifting off into the shadowy corners of his subconscious.

What follows is a mirage-like trip through Deerhunter’s record collection in which the primitive early rock ‘n’ roll of the ’50s and ’60s blurs together with ’80s and ’90s indie guitar jams and a galaxy of great records in between, all of it glazed over with an ambient glimmer prevalent in Cox’s solo work as Atlas Sound. Upon reviewing Halcyon Digest 10 years ago, my Stereogum predecessor Brandon Stosuy wisely observed that in contrast to Cox’s colorful, boundary-pushing public profile, Deerhunter’s music had always been more nostalgic than he lets on: “He does a great job reprocessing (and Digesting) the sounds of the past through his own collagist aesthetic.” This was the least abrasive, most welcoming version of that aesthetic. Working with Merriweather Post Pavilion producer Ben H. Allen for the first time, the band softened its rangy and sometimes aggressive sonic outbursts just enough that they came across as pop of a sort without sacrificing their mystique.

The resulting music was intoxicating, like tapping into someone else’s rose-colored recollection of the classics. Yet in keeping with his stated concept, Cox threaded these songs with depressing and sometimes disturbing imagery, be it a poor weeping child on the ragged and reverb-drenched “Don’t Cry” or a human trafficking victim on the lush and all-consuming digital power ballad “Helicopter.” Some of the brightest and catchiest moments are the most acerbic: Cox serving up sarcasm to an absentee parent on the woozy head rush “Memory Boy” and rolling his eyes at clueless industry people amidst the surprisingly Stonesy, sax-skronking “Coronado.” And on the floaty, kaleidoscopic finale “He Would Have Laughed,” Cox tenderly pays tribute to the late Jay Reatard: “In sweetness comes suffering,” he sings, before lamenting, “Where did my friends go?”

Again and again he and his characters find themselves abandoned, by choice or by fate; even the happier moments are bittersweet, snapshots of bliss and passion tainted by confusion, alienation, and death. The delicate doo-wop pastiche “Basement Scene” chronicles the thrill of immersion in a teenage music community — for realism’s sake, Cox insisted on recording it in an actual basement and having engineer David Barbe’s 14-year-old son Henry produce it — but its protagonist is haunted by the knowledge that “my friends will not remember me.” Gracefully gliding lead single “Revival,” ostensibly about an intense Pentecostal church service, could just as easily be about a queer sexual encounter that ends messily. The barebones lullaby “Sailing” walks a fine line between solitude and loneliness. Cox’s music had always documented the isolation that came with being gay and living with Marfan syndrome, but never had his turmoil been dressed up so prettily.

Considering how much pain and regret were brimming beneath the music’s placid glow, it’s fitting that the Halcyon Digest sessions were nearly derailed by head-butting between Cox and Allen, two men with strong and often contradictory perspectives. “We did not come to the project seeing eye to eye,” Cox told Noisey years later. “I was like, ‘I know what I’m doing,’ and he was coming off the success of a lot of things and he had his ideas. I thought that he was enormously competent, but I wasn’t looking for an artistic collaborator at that point, so we did not get along.”

Between Cox’s comments and the sun-dappled psychedelia typical of Allen’s discography, I get the sense that the producer was responsible for making this album so approachable while the band wanted to remain as weird and challenging as ever. That might be a misunderstanding, but it’s clear that Cox views Halcyon Digest as a concession of sorts. In the same interview, he ranked the album near the bottom of Deerhunter’s discography and griped about the cooler public response toward 2013’s raw freakout Monomania and 2015’s moody, idiosyncratic Fading Frontier (for which they again teamed with Allen, for what it’s worth). “It’s a perfect record,” he said of Fading Frontier, decrying listeners’ decreasing attention spans. “It should have been widely accepted. It should have won us new fans.” Furthermore, “Monomania is the greatest album I’ve ever made and anybody that doesn’t like it has no idea what I’m about or what I’m doing. They’re simply avid fans of what’s called indie rock and think we’re a notable indie rock band. I hate indie rock and never liked the term. I don’t consider myself a participant in indie rock. I think it’s a ghetto.”

That said, Cox also revealed that Halcyon Digest contains his favorite Deerhunter track ever, and it’s among the most classically “indie rock” songs in their catalog. It’s also one Cox admittedly had nothing to do with. Deerhunter fans can always count on guitarist Lockett Pundt for one or two absolute bangers per album, be it Microcastle’s graceful, hypnotic “Agoraphobia” or Fading Frontier’s spaced-out epic “Ad Astra.” On Halcyon Digest he served up a pair of anthems that have a lot to do with the album’s vaunted standing in Deerhunter’s catalog. My personal favorite is “Fountain Stairs,” a tight little pop song that builds to a gorgeous bombardment in under three minutes, wielding its central lacerating guitar melody with a violent beauty. But the Pundt song that has become the people’s choice is “Desire Lines,” a spidery six-string epic that plays like Pixies writing a Sonic Youth song or vice versa.

Like the Microcastle classic “Nothing Ever Happens” before it, “Desire Lines” is one of those Deerhunter songs that works as a rejoinder to the notion that Deerhunter is just the Bradford Cox show. Over the course of six minutes, the whole band gets to show off — Pundt, yes, with his array of riffs and soothing, understated vocals, but also drummer Moses Archuleta and the late bass maestro Josh Fauver, whose gradually intensifying lockstep groove elevates Pundt’s beautiful tangle of guitars beyond the horizon and into the stratosphere. Halcyon Digest was the final album this lineup released together, and “Desire Lines” stands as a monument to their collective abilities.

Pundt’s lyrics are about breaking free from the well-worn paths we sometimes end up on by default and charting your own course instead, a philosophy Deerhunter would adhere to in the ensuing decade. It’s remarkable and respectable that they didn’t just continue making albums like Halcyon Digest indefinitely, that they kept people guessing rather than settle into a crowd-pleasing rhythm at odds with the perverse, provocative impulse that animates so much of their finest work. Can you even imagine a version of Deerhunter that comfortably assimilated into the indie industrial complex? Still, every time one of Halcyon Digest’s more straightforward climaxes bowls me over, I’m grateful that this band bothered to construct their own idealized composite of the past, even if only to call bullshit on it.

beabadoobee – “How Was Your Day?”

beabadoobee – “How Was Your Day?”

| September 28, 2020 – 1:10 pm

Bea Kristi, the London bedroom-pop phenom who records as beabadoobee, is a few weeks away from releasing Fake It Flowers, her full-length debut. beabadoobee is a viral star whose sound is explicitly influenced by lo-fi ’90s indie-pop and who has serious industry muscle behind her, so it’ll be fascinating to hear what happens when that LP is out in the world. We’ve already posted the early singles “Care,” “Sorry,” and “Worth It.” Today, she’s shared a video for another one called “How Was Your Day?”

“How Was Your Day?” is probably the most spectral of the songs we’ve yet heard from the album. It’s a shy, muttery, lo-fi track, and it’s mostly acoustic. On the song, beabadoobee sings about missing an ex and wanting them back again. It’s got a bit of a Mary Lou Lord quality to it, but it seems even more powerfully introverted than anything she might’ve sung.

In the “How Was Your Day?” video, we see beabadoobee in lo-res Super 8-style footage, hitting the recording studio and going about her day. We also see her sitting on a swing and staring off into nothingness. Check it out below.

Fake It Flowers is out 10/16 on Dirty Hit.

Broadcast Share Unreleased Demo “Where Are You?” On Trish Keenan’s Birthday

Broadcast Share Unreleased Demo “Where Are You?” On Trish Keenan’s Birthday

| September 28, 2020 – 1:22 pm

CREDIT: Wendy Redfern/Redferns

A few years ago, Broadcast’s James Cargill shared a new demo on what would have been Trish Keenan’s birthday. Today, he’s done it again. Keenan would have been 52 today — she passed away in 2011 — and Cargill has uploaded a 4-track demo from 2002 called “Where Are You?” to his SoundCloud page. That places its creation sometime between their 2000 debut The Noise Made By The People (which we wrote about earlier this year for its 20th anniversary) and their 2003 follow-up Haha Sound. Check it out below.

16 Artists Who Should Make Their SNL Debut This Year

16 Artists Who Should Make Their SNL Debut This Year

| September 28, 2020 – 3:32 pm

CREDIT: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Visible

After having its 45th season derailed by the pandemic, Saturday Night Live returns to Studio 8H this weekend for its first in-person broadcast since March. The host will be SNL alum Chris Rock, there to promote his starring role in the new season of Fargo, which I am anticipating far more feverishly than the new SNL season to be frank. Rock will have the honor of introducing musical guest Megan Thee Stallion, arguably the hottest rapper in America right now. Megan is coming off a summer in which she scored her first two #1 hits by teaming with Beyoncé and Cardi B (as a fan of grand spectacle, I’m crossing my fingers for guest appearances from both) and survived multiple gunshot wounds in a high-profile altercation. She has become a huge deal, and deservedly so — exactly the kind of newly minted superstar who SNL, a cultural yearbook of sorts whether you like it or not, should be anointing with an invite to their stage.

So, who else should be in line for their debut appearance on the show this season? Here are 16 suggestions.

Lil Baby

His momentum has been building for several years now, but with My Turn (a mainstay of the Billboard 200 album chart’s top 10 since February) and the Black Lives Matter-inspired standalone single “The Bigger Picture,” sing-songy Atlanta rapper Lil Baby ascended to folk hero status in 2020. One look at his streaming numbers should be enough to convince Lorne Michaels this guy is an SNL-grade superstar, even without witnessing the personal gravity Baby now exudes.

Roddy Ricch

The only rapper with a legitimate claim to a more successful 2020 than Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Baby is Roddy Ricch, who — between his own “The Box” and DaBaby’s “Rockstar” — has spent 18 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this year. His Mustard collaboration “Ballin’” has also been a rap radio staple, and his December 2019 debut album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial was the biggest smash of the pre-COVID era, returning to the top of the Billboard 200 in January around the time “The Box” was popping off.


BTS tend to be the first K-pop group to accomplish various feats of Western cultural saturation, and indeed, they became the scene’s first exports to perform on SNL last year. But with Blackpink mounting an intense promo campaign around this Friday’s The Album, including their own Netflix documentary, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the show book the galactically catchy girl group this fall — especially given the high likelihood that Selena Gomez would show up to perform their new collaborative single “Ice Cream.”

Doja Cat

It’s easy to imagine this colorful, controversial rapper-singer being someone at SNL’s problematic fave, and I have to believe she’d pull some kind of stunt to ensure her performance was memorable. Since “Say So” was one of the biggest TikTok-boosted hits of the year, Doja may be ready to show feet at 30 Rock, but now that we’re well beyond that song’s moment, I could see her launching her next album cycle there.

Phoebe Bridgers

SNL’s booking has skewed extremely mainstream in recent years, but historically the show has worked a few rising indie stars into its schedule. Bridgers is already beloved within the showbiz ranks, has forged connections with the comedy world via endeavors like her Matt Berninger duet from Between Two Ferns: The Movie, and seems organically popular in a way few of her peers can boast. She’d be a slam dunk.

Bad Bunny

Few urbano stars are as fun or as famous as our man Benito, who just last week took New York by storm with a virtual concert performed atop a bus driving through the city. He technically already appeared on SNL, acting opposite Kenan Thompson in a remote comedy sketch this past spring, but he deserves to be officially inaugurated into the lineage of musical guests.

Rina Sawayama

Saturday Night Live has sometimes been a venue for performers with a lot of online buzz to break through to a mainstream audience. Both Lana Del Rey and Sam Smith played the show well before they became household names. I could see the nu-metal-loving pop star Rina Sawayama — who is more of a known quantity in her native Britain than here in the States — charting a similar trajectory.

Sam Hunt

My love for this college football quarterback turned rap-indebted country singer is well established. So are his bona fides as a consistent hit-maker and a deeply influential pioneer within his field. The endlessly clever “Hard To Forget” chased with the heartrending “2016” would be live television gold.

Burna Boy

With the Diddy-assisted Twice As Tall, Nigerian star Burna Boy made a convincing foray into US mainstream stardom this summer. Still, despite percolating for a good solid decade now, the globally beloved Afrobeats community hasn’t been blessed with a platform like SNL yet.

Run The Jewels

It’s time. They may not be in heavy rotation or racking up insane streaming figures, but buddy-comedy progressive revolutionaries Killer Mike and El-P have long since ascended to that plane wherein everyone who’s familiar with them recognizes them as conquering heroes. They cut down on the dick jokes for RTJ4 too, so, yeah, the time is right. And if Lorne really needs convincing, Run The Jewels can roll deep with Pharrell and Zack De La Rocha in tow.

Brandi Carlile

After all those Grammy wins and all that Obama love, it goes without saying that Brandi Carlile is an SNL-grade star. Fame aside, it also helps Carlile’s case that she’s among her generation’s most gifted singer-songwriters, capable of turning raw personal disclosures into profound generational statements.


Few artists can claim the combination of industry backing and grassroots fan support that Kehlani brings to the table. Not many of them have her voice, songwriting chops, or charisma either.

Lil Uzi Vert

You could have made a similar case circa “Bad And Boujee” or “XO TOUR Llif3,” but the feverish response to Uzi’s long-awaited Eternal Atake early this year is proof enough that rap’s weirdest rock star is overdue for his SNL moment.


Rosalía’s brilliant flamenco-infused future-pop dispatch El Mal Querer feels so long ago, and she’s become so much more famous since then — like, billions of YouTube views famous. Like, hanging out with Kylie Jenner famous. That last part makes me nervous, but it also suggests that Lorne can’t miss by booking Rosalía whenever her anticipated LP3 is ready to drop.

Orville Peck

This masked queer outlaw country singer has already made the leap from Sub Pop to Columbia, duetted with Shania Twain, and been booked to open for Harry Styles at Madison Square Garden. An SNL appearance is only a matter of time.

Post Malone

I know, crazy right? Some way, somehow, Post Malone — easily one of the five biggest stars in music today, with an insane reach across cultures — hasn’t played SNL yet. Lorne needs this guy pulling double duty as host and musical guest like yesterday.


With 87,000 equivalent album units and 56,000 in sales, Taylor Swift’s Folklore has returned to #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart for a seventh nonconsecutive week. Per Billboard, Swift has now spent 47 weeks overall at #1, surpassing Whitney Houston’s previous record of 46. The last album to spend more weeks at #1 was Drake’s Views, which posted 13 nonconsecutive weeks atop the chart back in 2016.

After Pop Smoke and YoungBoy Never Broke Again comes a #4 debut for Alicia Keys’ Alicia, with 62,000 units and 51,000 in sales. It’s her eighth top-10 album. Juice WRLD is at #5, followed by a #6 debut for Moneybagg Yo and Blac Youngsta’s Code Red. The collaborative LP posted just over 40,000 units, mostly via streaming. Keith Urban’s The Speed Of Now, Part 1 enters at #7 with 40,000 units and 27,000 in sales, becoming his eighth top-10 release. Hamilton is at #8, Lil Baby is at #9, and Lil Tecca’s Virgo World posts a #10 debut with 34,000 units — again, mostly due to streaming.

After being bumped to #2 for a couple weeks, BTS have reclaimed the #1 spot on the Hot 100 with “Dynamite” for a third nonconsecutive frame. This again knocks Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” down to #2. Justin Bieber and Chance The Rapper’s “Holy” makes a #3 debut, becoming Bieber’s 20th top-10 hit and Chance’s third (his other two were also Bieber collabs). Drake and Lil Durk’s “Laugh Now, Cry Later” is in at #4, followed by 24kGoldn and Iann Dior’s “Mood” at a new #5 peak. The rest of the top 10: DaBaby and Roddy Ricch’s “Rockstar,” the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (ending its record-setting run of 28 weeks in the top 5), Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar,” Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” (which should be trending up thanks to a new BTS remix), and Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope.”


Zayn – “Better”
Now that he’s a dad, it sounds like Zayn has figured out how to make his favored adult contemporary R&B really sizzle.

Jennifer Lopez & Maluma – “Pa Ti + Lonely”
Also smooth as hell: This.

Bastille – “Survivin’”
“What can I say? I’m survivin’” is an extremely savvy hook for a late 2020 pop song, especially when matched with moody chords and an easygoing boom-bap beat. Normally Bastille do not interest me, but anyone doing this good of a 1975 impression have my attention.

Ashton Irwin – “Skinny Skinny”
It ain’t no “Skinny Love,” that’s for damn sure.

Vin Diesel – “Feel Like I Do”
What’s more surprising: Vin Diesel releasing a generic tropical house single, or that single being listenable?


  • Demi Lovato is no longer engaged, which her fiancé learned from the tabloids. [TMZ]
  • Strengthening my belief that “WAP” will be performed at full strength this weekend: Chris Rock once tried to get a Cardi B her own Comedy Central series. [Vulture]
  • Billie Eilish announced a documentary, The World’s A Little Blurry, out in February. [Instagram]
  • Doja Cat revealed the existence of an Ariana Grande collab. [Twitter]
  • DaBaby is being sued by a California man who says the rapper beat him up on camera last year because he took a photo of him. [TMZ]
  • Avril Lavigne is playing a livestream benefit for Global Lyme Alliance on 10/24. [Rolling Stone]
  • Post Malone leads the 2020 Billboard Music Awards nominations with 16. [BBMAs]
  • It’s BTS Week on Fallon. [EW]
  • In related news, BTS’ new album BE (Deluxe Edition) is out 11/20. [EW]
  • For this year’s Time 100 “most influential people” series, Taylor Swift wrote about Phoebe Waller Bridge, Elton John wrote about the Weekend, BTS wrote about Halsey, Taraji P. Henson wrote about Megan Thee Stallion, and Camila Cabello wrote about J Balvin. [Time]
  • Dan + Shay, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs, Sam Hunt, and Thomas Rhett lead this year’s CMT Music Awards nominations with three each. [CMT]
  • Selena Gomez broke down “Lose You To Love Me” on Song Exploder. [Song Exploder]
  • Lizzo did a 73 Questions video with Vogue. [YouTube]
  • Mandy Moore is pregnant with her first child. [Instagram]
  • Justin Bieber and Chance The Rapper gave away $250k to people in need via Cash app on Thursday. [TMZ]
  • Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty now makes underwear for men too. [GQ]


Taylor Swift Breaks Whitney Houston’s Record For Most Cumulative Weeks At #1 Among Women

Taylor Swift Breaks Whitney Houston’s Record For Most Cumulative Weeks At #1 Among Women

| September 27, 2020 – 7:35 pm

CREDIT: Beth Garrabant / Suzie Gibbons/Redferns

Taylor Swift’s Folklore is back at the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 this week, which means she has now spent the most cumulative weeks at #1 in the chart’s history among women. Swift broke a record previously set by Whitney Houston in 1987. She now trails the Beatles (132 weeks), Elvis Presley (67), Garth Brooks (52), and Michael Jackson (51) for the most nonconsecutive chart-topping weeks.

As Billboard reports, Folklore earned 87,000 equivalent album units this week, which was boosted by selling additional signed CD copies online and in stores. Last week, she also performed “Betty” on the Academy Of Country Music Awards and released the live version of streaming services shortly after.

Following Swift at #2 is Pop Smoke’s Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon. YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s Top fell from the top spot last week to #3 this one. Alicia Keys’ Alicia debuted at #4, making it her eighth Top 10 album. Juice WRLD’s Legends Never Die is at #5, Moneybagg Yo and Blac Youngsta debuted at #6, Keith Urban debuted at #7, Hamilton is at #8, Lil Baby is at #9, and Lil Tecca’s Virgo World rounds out the Top 10 with his debut.

Watch Angel Olsen Cover “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Perform Take Away Show

Watch Angel Olsen Cover “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Perform Take Away Show

| September 27, 2020 – 2:32 pm

Last month, Angel Olsen released Whole New Mess, her companion album to last year’s All Mirrors, and she’s been keeping busy during lockdown. Over on Instagram, she’s gotten in the habit of performing some stripped-down covers of songs by artists like George Harrison, Roxy Music, and Tori Amos.

Today, she posted a quick snippet of her singing “I’ll Be Seeing You,” the 1938 track that’s been covered by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Mildred Bailey, and many more over the years. “Working on some covers, some expected, some not,” Olsen captioned the post. “This one’s been close to the heart lately.” Could we be so lucky as to get a whole album of Olsen covers at some point? Seems like maybe!

Here’s her doing “I’ll Be Seeing You”:

View this post on Instagram

Working on some covers, some expected, some not. This one’s been close to the heart lately. “I’ll be seeing you” Original music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal. Published in 1938, it was inserted into the Broadway musical Right This Way, which closed after fifteen performances. Later made famous by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and my favorite jazz/ swing/ blues singer Mildred Bailey. – -Speaking of which, if you’re unfamiliar check out some of Mildred Bailey’s work. From Wikipedia: “Mildred Bailey (born Mildred Rinker; February 27, 1907 – December 12, 1951) was a Native American jazz singer[2] during the 1930s, known as "The Queen of Swing", "The Rockin' Chair Lady" and "Mrs. Swing". Some of her best-known hits are "For Sentimental Reasons", "It's So Peaceful in the Country", "Doin' The Uptown Lowdown", "Trust in Me", "Where Are You?", "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart", "Small Fry", "Please Be Kind", "Darn That Dream", "Rockin' Chair", "Blame It on My Last Affair", and "Says My Heart". She had three singles that made number one on the popular charts.[3]”

A post shared by Angel Olsen (@angelolsenmusic) on Sep 27, 2020 at 9:21am PDT

In other recent Angel Olsen content, La Blogotheque recently shared one of their Take Away performances featuring Olsen, which was recorded in February before a show in Paris. She did “Waving, Smiling” from Whole New Mess. Watch that below.

Whole New Mess is out now via Jagjaguwar. Read our recent Cover Story on Olsen here.

Mariah Carey Reveals Involvement In ’90s Alternative Rock Band Chick

Mariah Carey Reveals Involvement In ’90s Alternative Rock Band Chick

| September 27, 2020 – 3:54 pm

CREDIT: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Mariah Carey is releasing her memoir, The Meaning Of Mariah Carey, this coming week. Today, she posted a new excerpt from it on Twitter in which she reveals that she made an alternative rock album at the same time she was recording her 1995 album Daydream. “Just for laughs, but it got me through some dark days,” she wrote in the tweet.

“I’d bring my little alt-rock song to the band and hum a silly guitar riff. They would pick it up and we would record it immediately. It was irreverent, raw, and urgent, and the band got into it,” she wrote in the excerpt. “I actually started to love some of the songs. I would fully commit to my character.” She continued:

I was playing with the style of the breezy-grunge, punk-light white female singers who were popular at the time. You know the ones who seemed to be so carefree with their feelings and their image. They could be angry, angsty, and messy, with old shoes, wrinkled slips, and unruly eyebrows, while every movie I made was so calculated and manicured. I wanted to break free, let loose, and express my misery — but I also wanted to laugh. totally looked forward to doing my alter-ego band sessions after Daydream each night.

Along with the book excerpt, she posted a snippet of one of the songs that she made for the album and she shouts out her friend Clarissa who performed lead vocals with “me as a hidden layer.” A graphic on the clip points to some artwork for a band called Chick and an album called Someone’s Ugly Daughter.

Some digging reveals that Chick did indeed release an album back in 1995 — the same year that Daydream came out — though it’s not available on streaming services. A couple of songs have been uploaded to YouTube, though, and are copyrighted to Sony/BMG Music Entertainment, part of the same umbrella company that Carey was on at the time.

One of those songs is “Demented,” and the other one is called “Malibu.” They’ve both been on YouTube since 2009 and 2012, respectively, though no one knew of the Carey connection. It’s unclear how involved Carey was in all of these songs — no liner notes are online — but presumably she’d have writing credits and potentially sing backup vocals on some of them.

You can hear what’s currently available from Chick’s sole album below.

Fun fact: I did an alternative album while I was making Daydream 👀 Just for laughs, but it got me through some dark days. Here's a little of what I wrote about it in #TheMeaningOfMariahCarey 🤟 S/O to my friend Clarissa who performs the lead w/ me as a hidden layer #Chick #TMOMC

— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) September 27, 2020

Someone has already sussed out 30-second snippets of each track on the album, which includes a cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” which is also available elsewhere on the web.

Mariah Carey's secret album "Someones Ugly Daughter" under the alias "Chick" has been REVEALED!

— Mariah Carey Charts (@chartmariah) September 27, 2020

Carey’s memoir comes out on 9/29.

Watch Beastie Boys’ Last Concert Ever From Bonnaroo 2009

Watch Beastie Boys’ Last Concert Ever From Bonnaroo 2009

| September 26, 2020 – 11:19 am

CREDIT: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Bonnaroo is supposed to be happening right now. Obviously, we still live in a COVID hellscape right now and it isn’t. But like many other music festivals, Bonnaroo is moving online with a Virtual Roo-Ality stream featuring new and archival performances. And one of those archival performances is the Beastie Boys’ last concert ever.

The Beastie Boys headlined Bonnaroo in 2009. Shortly after the show, Adam “MCA” Yauch was diagnosed with cancer; he died in 2012. On Thursay, Bonnaroo shared footage of the set as part of their Virtual Roo-ality webcast, and by popular demand, they’ve decided to keep it up for the rest of the weekend. Take advantage and watch below while you can.

The last gig..
We've heard from so many fans around the world that were unable to tune in last night, so our friends at @Bonnaroo are letting the set live online through the weekend.
Check it out here:

— Beastie Boys (@beastieboys) September 25, 2020

Preview Kanye West’s New Song Sampling Lauryn Hill

Preview Kanye West’s New Song Sampling Lauryn Hill

| September 26, 2020 – 11:39 am

CREDIT: Marc Piasecki/GC Images

Back in June, Kanye West shared a new song called “Wash Us In The Blood” featuring Travis Scott and mixed by Dr. Dre, and around that time, he started using Twitter again. Things escalated quickly, as they do for Kanye West on Twitter, and now we’ve all seen him pissing on a Grammy. This morning, though, he used his Twitter to post a snippet of a new song called “Believe What I Say,” which features a sample of Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing).” Preview it below.


— ye (@kanyewest) September 26, 2020

Oh, also? Kanye West flew to Haiti to meet with president Jovenel Moise yesterday. He’s apparently planning to build a city in Haiti. Sure.

Rapper Kanye West who arrived in Haiti earlier was greeted at the Cap-Haitien airport by Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Tennis star Naomi Osaka, who traveled to Haiti after her U.S. Open win was also spotted in this video with her family greeting West at the airport.

— Lunionsuite 🇭🇹 (@LunionSuite) September 25, 2020

News *

Kanye apparently wants to build a city in Haiti 🇭🇹, which is why he is meeting with the President of Haiti.

Would you guys wanna move to a YZY city 🔥 🔥 ❓

— West Sub Ever (@WestSubEver) September 25, 2020

Rapper Kanye West In Haiti on a boat ride with president Jovenel Moise.
[Source: @Jhanedouze]

— Lunionsuite 🇭🇹 (@LunionSuite) September 25, 2020

Bill Murray’s Lawyer Responds To Doobie Brothers’ Legal Notice, Offers Golf Shirts

Bill Murray’s Lawyer Responds To Doobie Brothers’ Legal Notice, Offers Golf Shirts

| September 26, 2020 – 1:38 pm

CREDIT: Harry How/Getty Images

The other day, we learned that Bill Murray’s golf apparel brand, William Murray Golf, was using the Doobie Brothers’ “Listen To The Music” without permission to advertise its new Zero Hucks Given golf shirt. The Doobies’ lawyer, Peter T. Paterno of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano LLP, sent a humorous legal threat to Murray to get him to pay up. suggesting that he change the name of the shirt to Zero Bucks Given. “We’d almost be OK with it if the shirts weren’t so damn ugly,” the letter concluded. “But it is what it is. So in the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, ‘Au revoir Golfer. Et payez!’”

Now, The Wrap reports, Bill Murray’s lawyer has responded with a goofy letter of his own. “Your negative comments about their fashionableness are especially disconcerting to all of us — especially considering 75% of my wardrobe consists of William Murray polos, shorts and pants,” the letter from attorney Alexander Yoffe reads. “Color me biased, but the consensus on this side of the table is that Bill and the brothers have some of the most clever and creative lifestyle wear available.”

To settle the dispute, Murray is offering … golf shirts. “Please provide us with the shirt size for yourself, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald, and John McFee, along with which of our client’s shirts you find the least offensive, and we will happily upgrade your wardrobes and hopefully win each of you over as new fans of the brand,” Yoffee continues. “At least that’s ‘what this fool believes.’” Read the full response below.

Dear Mr. Paterno,

Our firm represents W.M. Golf, Inc., d/b/a “William Murray Golf”. First, I would like to compliment you on finding levity in the law at a time when the world and this country certainly could use a laugh. Your client’s demand was able to cut through the noise of the news cycle and remind us how much we all miss live music these days.

We would also like to confirm that both our firm, and the good folks at William Murray Golf, are indeed fans of the Doobie Brothers’ music, which is why we appreciate your firm’s choice of “Takin’ It To The Streets”, rather than to the courts, which are already overburdened “Minute By Minute” with real problems.

I am sure that Howard King of your firm, who argued that the song “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I.) did not infringe on Marvin Gaye’s composition “Got To Give It Up”, would agree that your client was not harmed under these circumstances.

All that to say, your negative comments about their fashionableness are especially disconcerting to all of us — especially considering 75% of my wardrobe consists of William Murray polos, shorts and pants. Color me biased, but the consensus on this side of the table is that Bill and the brothers have some of the most clever and creative lifestyle wear available.

In the immortal words of Mr. Murray — the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything… so let’s pour one up and unwind with a listen of the recently-released “Quadio” box set and plan to cross paths at a Doobie Brothers’ 50th anniversary show in 2021 when some level of normalcy resumes.

As your client so aptly stated in this classic song in question, “What the people need is a way to make them smile” — which both Bill and the Doobies have been doing for decades, as world-class entertainers.

Please provide us with the shirt size for yourself, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald, and John McFee, along with which of our client’s shirts you find the least offensive, and we will happily upgrade your wardrobes and hopefully win each of you over as new fans of the brand.

At least that’s “what this fool believes”.

The Smashing Pumpkins – “Confessions Of A Dopamine Addict” & “Wrath”

The Smashing Pumpkins – “Confessions Of A Dopamine Addict” & “Wrath”

| September 25, 2020 – 12:02 am

Last week, the Smashing Pumpkins officially announced their new double album, CYR, after sharing two songs from it, the title track and “The Colour Of Love,” last month. Today, they’re back with another pair of songs from CYR: “Confessions Of A Dopamine Addict” and “Wrath.”

In conjunction with the new album, Billy Corgan has created a five-part animated series called In Ashes that will debut alongside the rollout for the album. The first two episodes of that series — “As The Crow Flies” (set to “The Colour Of Love”) and “Inspirations, Aspirations” (set to “Confessions”) — will premiere at noon ET tomorrow.

Listen to the new tracks below.

And here are the In Ashes episodes:

CYR is out 11/27 via Sumerian Records. Pre-order it here.

The Number Ones: Phil Collins’ “One More Night”

The Number Ones: Phil Collins’ “One More Night”

| September 25, 2020 – 8:49 am

In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.


Phil Collins – “One More Night”

HIT #1: March 30, 1985

STAYED AT #1: 2 weeks

You don’t release a ballad as the first single. That’s been general-consensus pop-music wisdom for a long, long time. The first single from a new album has to grab people’s attention. It has to be bright and loud and uptempo. That song has to force the world to notice you. Once you’ve got the people’s attention, that’s when you hit them with the ballad and show that you’ve got range. But when you’re dealing with Phil Collins, you’ve got to flip that whole strategy around.

When Phil Collins, the genial Genesis drummer, released his third solo LP No Jacket Required early in 1985, he was mostly known for singing about his own romantic devastation. Collins had recorded his 1981 solo debut Face Value while recovering from the shock of divorce, crafting heart-wrenched depressive ballads while playing around with a drum machine in his suddenly-empty house. Collins’ primal-moan electro-blues had made him enormously successful, and his first two albums had both sold millions. In 1984, Collins had scored his first #1 hit in America with “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now),” a sad-bastard movie theme that he’d originally written for Face Value. Collins had become a brand-name pop superstar by sounding like he was mired in permanent existential despair.

When you’ve got a brand, you’ve got to protect it. So: Ballad. When Collins got started on making No Jacket Required, he wanted to prove that he wasn’t just a ballad guy and that he could make fun, uptempo dance-pop. For the most part, that’s what No Jacket Required is. But “One More Night,” the album’s first single, comes straight from the endless hurt-well that inspired Face Value. The first No Jacket Required song that the world got to hear was also the saddest song on the album. You’ve got to give the people what they want, even when they want to hear your voice emanating from a black hole of grief.

At least on paper, Phil Collins seemed like he was doing pretty fucking well in 1985. “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)” had once just been a leftover track on Collins’ cutting-room floor, but Collins flipped it and made it into a hugely successful soundtrack song. That song got Collins nominated for an Oscar. That same year, Collins also co-produced his friend Eric Clapton’s album Behind The Sun, and he sang and played drums on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” the all-star charity single that almost immediately became the biggest-selling single in UK history, a distinction that it held for more than a decade.

Around the same time, Collins produced and played on Chinese Wall, the 1985 solo album from the Earth, Wind & Fire singer Philip Bailey. “Easy Lover,” the first single from that album, was a duet from the two Phils. It became a yuppie-soul smash, topping the UK charts and getting as high as #2 in America. (It’s a 7.)

Also: Phil Collins wasn’t heartbroken anymore! In fact, by the time he made No Jacket Required, Collins had already married Jill Tavelman, his second wife. Presumably, this meant that Collins was no longer wading through the psychic muck of his 1980 divorce. But you definitely can’t tell from listening to “One More Night,” one of the most unapologetically self-pitying songs ever to top the Hot 100.

The narrator of “One More Night” is not a guy who’s gotten over a breakup. It’s the sound of someone pining for something that he knows is over: “I know there’ll never be a time you’ll ever feel the same/ And I know it’s only words/ But if you change your mind, you know that I’ll be here/ And maybe we both can learn.” He tells his ex that he can’t wait forever, but he also makes it plain that he can and will wait forever. That narrator doesn’t even know if his ex is still single: “I was wondering: Should I call you?/ Then I thought maybe you’re not alone.” But he keeps pleading anyway, asking again and again for one more night.

Collins wrote “One More Night” the way he wrote many of his songs: While playing around with his drum machine and thinking about American soul music. (In a Playboy interview around that time, he said that he was thinking about a Jacksons song, though he didn’t specify which one.) Once Collins figured out the chorus, which is mostly just the title repeated a bunch of times, the rest of the song came quickly.

Collins co-produced “One More Night” with his regular collaborator Hugh Padham, who’d also done “Every Breath You Take” with the Police. (Speaking of the Police: Collins met Sting while they were making “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” together, and Sting sang backup on a couple of No Jacket Required tracks.) Together, Collins and Padham came up with a soft-glow synth-soul backing track for the song.

“One More Night” sounds rich and expensive and maybe even futuristic, but not in ways that overwhelm its own bummed-out nature. In the song’s video, we see Collins alone, playing piano in a London pub owned by Virgin Records honcho Richard Branson. Director James Yukich, who later made the 1994 Double Dragon movie, films Collins in soft sepia. The place is closed, and Collins’ only audience is the bartender who looks on balefully while wiping down glasses.

Toward the end of the song, saxophonist Don Myrick, who I guess had been sitting in the dark that whole time, tootles out a sympathetic solo. (Myrick was a key member of Earth, Wind & Fire’s great Phenix Horns. In 1993, at the age of 53, Myrick was shot dead by an LA cop who said that he thought Myrick’s lighter was a weapon.)

The strength of “One More Night” is that it sounds like the kind of song that a sad, heartbroken schlub could sing alone at a piano in an empty pub. It’s not, of course. The production is rich and expansive, full of sharp little details. It’s not a cluttered song, but all the subtle elements — the soft thud of the drum machine, the glimmering sustain of the keyboards, the easy burble of the bass — fill it out. I like the tiny little 808 sycopations and the echoing beeps that come in as the song progresses. Collins didn’t do anything halfassed, and “One More Night” doesn’t have the cheap thinness of so many synthy ’80s songs. Instead, it’s warm and buttery, and it reaches a small and unforced climax when Myrick shows up for that thoughtful, restrained solo.

Collins really sings, too. It almost seems unfair that a drummer could have a voice that smooth and expressive. Collins’ voice really glides on that hook — “one more night” — and he nicely underplays the emotive theatrics of his own verses. Collins wants to let you know that he’s being ripped apart, but he also doesn’t want to make a big show of it. I appreciate that.

“One More Night” isn’t one of Collins’ best songs. It’s not quite brash enough for that. Collins was always capable of sustaining a mood and then jolting you out of it, often via crashing drum fill. On “One More Night,” that jolt never arrives. Instead, Collins just evokes a feeling and then languishes in it, slowly layering on new sounds in ways that you might only notice on the tenth listen. His touch is deft, and the song works, but it also has a way of fading into the background.

In any case, “One More Night” was only the beginning. Apparently, it was smart move, at least in this case, to release the ballad as the first single. Collins was already a star before 1985, but No Jacket Required blew his previous two albums out of the water. No Jacket Required topped the album charts for seven weeks and eventually sold 12 million copies in the US alone. The same week that Phil Collins squirmed through the Oscars, watching Ann Reinking’s deeply strange lip-synced performance of his song, Collins had the #1 album and single in the US. Collins will appear in this column again soon.

GRADE: 7/10

BONUS BEATS: In his 1986 movie The Color Of Money, Martin Scorsese used “One More Night” to soundtrack a scene of Tom Cruise trying to hustle people at pool and impressing Paul Newman. Here’s that scene:

BONUS BONUS BEATS: The recovering teen idol Jordan Knight released a cover of “One More Night” on his album Love Songs in 2006. Sadly, he did not retitle it “One More Knight.” Here’s that cover:

(As a solo artist, Jordan Knight’s highest-charting single is 1999’s “Give It To You,” which peaked at #10. It’s an 8. As a member of New Kids On The Block, Knight will eventually appear in this column.)

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the solo “One More Night” cover that Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon posted on her website in 2009:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: The dancehall star Busy Signal also released a “One More Night” cover in 2009; this might be the only thing that Nina Gordon and Busy Signal have in common. Here’s the Busy Signal version:

Tory Lanez Released A Whole Album About The Megan Thee Stallion Shooting Story

Tory Lanez Released A Whole Album About The Megan Thee Stallion Shooting Story

| September 25, 2020 – 9:35 am

CREDIT: Tory Lanez

The entire saga of Tory Lanez and Megan Thee Stallion continues to get sadder and weirder. In July, Megan Thee Stallion was shot multiple times outside a party at Kylie Jenner’s house. The same night, LA police arrested Tory Lanez on a concealed weapons charge. Witness reports claimed that Tory had shot Megan in the foot after an argument in a car, and Megan eventually confirmed those reports on Instagram Live, directly claiming that Tory had shot her. Earlier this month, TMZ reported that Tory had texted Megan hours afterward, apologizing and claiming that he’d been drunk. And now, in the latest development, Tory has released an entire album about the story.

Last night, Tory released a 17-song SoundCloud album called DAYSTAR. The whole thing seems to be a concept LP about the story, and about Tory’s feeling that the music industry has intentionally abandoned him after the shooting. On the album, Tory addresses Megan again and again, sometimes by name. Sometimes, he seems to be begging for her to take him back and professing his love to her: “You can always come back, come home to me.” And sometimes, he’s angrily going after her for accusing him of the shooting.

On opening track “Money Over Fallouts,” for instance, Tory fumes about the whole story: “Gotta see a couple questions: How the fuck you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?” He essentially accuses Megan of snitching: “Girl, you had the nerve to write that statement on that affidavit.” He says that her camp is trying to set him up: “Megan people tryna frame me for a shooting/ But them boys ain’t clean enough/ I see how they teaming up, watching and I’m calculating.” And he asks, again and again, why she’d do this to him: “I thought that you was solid, too, but look at how you doing me/ Look at how you doing me, people tryna ruin me/ And what’s even worse is I’m still thinking about you and me/ How you going live my birthday with all your jewelry to try to make some fool of me?”

Elsewhere, Tory repeatedly denies the story of the shooting: “I would never put my hands on a woman, dog/ I would never let it blam on a woman, dog,” “Since the event, you never called me but you can’t deny me/ If you got shot from behind, how can you identify me?” He sings about how Megan is doing him wrong: “We both know what happened/ What happened to passion?”

Tory also complains about “cancel culture” and says that “The Illuminati tryna get me.” He calls out various celebrities who have taken Megan’s side: Kehlani, Chance The Rapper, Bun B, JoJo, JR Smith Asian Da Brat. And he says that he and Megan had been fighting that night because he’d flirted with Kylie Jenner at her party. DAYSTAR is a wild and disturbing work of self-pity and self-destruction. If you would like to investigate for yourself, it’s below.

Tory Lanez · DAYSTAR

Van Morrison’s First Anti-Lockdown Anthem Is Here

Van Morrison’s First Anti-Lockdown Anthem Is Here

| September 25, 2020 – 9:35 am

After issuing a garbled and confusing statement last month about the “pseudo-science” surrounding COVID-19, in recent days Van Morrison has made it abundantly clear what he meant. The music legend announced last week that he was planning to release a series of singles condemning the “fascist” lockdown policies designed to combat the spread of coronavirus, beginning today with a track called “Born To Be Free,” which is out now as promised.

Morrison’s anti-lockdown crusade drew wisecracks from Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires and condemnation from Robin Swann, the health minister in Morrison’s native Northern Ireland, who wrote in a Rolling Stone op-ed, “We expected better from [Morrison].” Swann continued, “Some of what is he saying is actually dangerous. It could encourage people not to take coronavirus seriously. If you see it all as a big conspiracy, then you are less likely to follow the vital public health advice that keeps you and others safe.”

This has, of course, not stopped Morrison from releasing “Born To Be Free.” It is very much a Van Morrison song, a loose uptempo acoustic groove marked by playful organ work. But instead of singing about crazy love and brown-eyed girls and whatnot, he’s singing stuff like, “Don’t need the government cramping my style” and “The new normal is not normal/ It’s no kind of normal at all/ Everyone seemed to have amnesia just trying to remember the Berlin Wall.” Hear it for yourself below.