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Another 15 Diva Records to Always Be Thankful For

Janet….Shirley…Gloria….Madonna…Cyndi….Poe…..Cathy….Mariah….Wilson Phillips….Debbie….Britney…..TLC…..Katy…P!nk and our dearly departed, Ms. Houston. 

Let’s get to praisin.’ 

Janet/Rhythm Nation 1814   No words here….just lots of repeat viewings of the videos for “Miss You Much,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Come Back to Me,” “Black Cat” and “Love Will Never Do(Without You).” Or, as any Ms. Janet fans knows them as….the classic clips that changed the fucking music video landscape forever. But of course, it’s the video and oh, so still relevant thunder of the album’s title track that truly put this epic event record in its place…as a part of true pop music history. Is that end? Never when it comes to this standout Janet Jackson venture. 

Garbage/Self-titled “I can’t use what I can’t abuse” coos lead Garbage diva Shirley Manson on electric lead single, “Vow,” just one of the many satisfying Butch Vig cooked up offerings on the legendary rock band’s amplified debut opus. Whether you’re still just feeling all sorts of life with “Only Happy When it Rains,” trying to figure out exactly what “Queer” is really all about, or just straight up rockin’ it the fuck out to “Stupid Girl,” “Supervixen,” “Dog New Tricks,” or “Not My Idea,” even two decades later, there’s still not a dull moment to be found on Garbage’s groundbreaking freshman record…and that’s the angst-y truth.

TLC/OOOOH….on the TLC Tip While, yes, T-Boz, Chili and the dearly departed Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ sophomore set, CrazySexyCool, is indeed that fucking record, there’s no denying that their debut was–and most certainly still is–that fire. Whether gettin’ it done on “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg,” keepin’ it actual and factual for their men on “Baby, Baby, Baby,” or serving up friendship truth tea on “What About Your Friends,” the ladies of TLC delivered a stellar debut that’s still in a “Hat 2 Da Back” class of its very own because “Das Da Way We Like ‘Em,” indeed.

Katy Perry/Teenage Dream:The Complete Confection  No matter the shade you’re still throwing at Ms. Perry’s latest set, Witness (it’s not really that bad, is it?…sigh), it wasn’t too long ago that she was giving us hit-after-number-one-hit (five, to be exact…you know them) off of her wildly successful Teenage Dream venture, which in turn was completely confected with the chart-topping “Part of Me” and the number two grabbing, “Wide Awake.” They’re all here and so much more, and for that we shall be forever grateful, bish. 

Poe/Hello While we could easily spill about how every beat, rhyme, ebb and flow (“Dolphin,” “Beautiful Girl,” “Junkie”) from Ms. Poe‘ s excellent debut set sounds as fresh as the day they were served into our lives over two decades ago, let’s face it, the album’s spooky title track and oh, so delightfully murderous “Angry Johnny” still hit our music “G” spots every fucking time.  And for that, we’ll certainly be saying “Hello” to all things Poe and this album for centuries to come. 

Debbie/Out of the Blue Before Ariana, Taylor, Selena, Demi, Mandy, Willa, Jessica, Xtina, Britney and Tiffany there was…Debbie. Not only was she just as perky as her music, but she truly was–and still is–a talented force to be reckoned with. Although her debut set is now thirty years old (pass the Botox..now), each track including the cheeky title anthem, as well as “Shake Your Love,” “Staying Together,” “Red Hot,” and of course, “Only in My Dreams,” still get us shakin in our Jellie shoes upon every delightful romp. And when it comes to the music history making ballad “Foolish Beat” (at sixteen, Ms. Gibson is still the youngest person to have ever penned a number one single) and all of its sax-ed up, brokenhearted realness? Well, pass all of the Bon Bon’s and Kleenex now because it just came on and we still fucking can’t. Sigh…

Britney/Britney   Just think…..without this epic 2001 Godney offering there would be no “Slave” choreo…Banana the Python…Wade Robson…Dream Within a Dream Tour…performing in the god damn Bellagio water fountain…”I Love Rock and Roll”…..”Boys”(Co-ed Remix)…..”I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”…Crossroads………”What It’s Like to Be Me”(Hay, JT)…..and “Anticipating”( which is one of the best fucking tracks of Brit’s career). But most importantly, without Britney there would be no Britney. Now, get to praisin’ and thankin,’ y’all…because we must. 

P!nk/Can’t Take Me Home  Judging by the light rock anthem vibes of her chart bulldozing new single,”What About Us,” (and its politically charged music video), you would never know that there was a time that Mizz Alicia Moore was living that hot fushica haired R&B life on her 2000 debut. But, gurrrl, that she did for a sound that was complete with lots of cut-a-bitch sass, especially when it came to the 1,2,3 punch of singles “There You Go,” “Most Girls” and “You Make Me Sick.” And that time she owned MTV Icon Janet Jackson with her on point “Miss You Much” choreo? Fucking classic…and one of the top reasons we still live for all things P!nk today. 

Wilson Phillips/Self-titled  Corny? Yes. All things ’90s pop music cheese? Omg…seriously, kween. But those harmonies laced on #1 smashes “Hold On,” “Release Me” and “You’re in Love?” God damn priceless. However, any true, true fan of this Billboard Album Chart owning set knows that the true standouts are “Impulsive” and “The Dream is Still Alive,” you know, those two times that lead songstress Chyna Phillips (let’s face it, she was) let sisters Wendy and Carnie Wilson take lead vocals. Pure magic..and arrows through hearts drawn on misty windows for life, of course. 

Whitney/I Look To You   While any of our dearly departed Nippy’s Billboard smashing records will do just fine at any given one music moment in time, it’s I Look to You that deserves special attention as it’s not only Houston’s final record before she left us, but it’s actually, like, really, really good. While it’s noticeable that her voice is blessed with a huskier vocal range than we’re used to, it’s taken to full advantage here and shines on tracks “Million Dollar Bill,” “Nothin’ But Love,” “Like I Never Left,” and, sigh, “Call You Tonight.” And when it comes to the Diane Warren penned balladry of “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” and the album’s title track? Well, it’s like Ms. Houston never left us because it’s all still here and then some in her final studio set. Miss you, boo. 

Madonna/Erotica   One of the best albums of the ’90s is also the most controversial as Madge’s fifth studio offering was full of in-your-face bedroom beats and sex club sonnets, all of which were fueled by the fire that came prior with the release of her now, oh, so infamous Sex book. And Since ’90s soccer Mom’s across the globe were busy throwing all of their shade at Madonna during this time, the Erotica struggle became a little too real and nearly eclipsed Dita’s music career. However…this album, tho. Full of Shep Pettibone provided deep house ditties “(the steamy title track, “Secret Garden,” “Deeper and Deeper,” “Thief of Hearts,” “Waiting”)with lyrics about finding yourself sexually (“Colonel Sanders says it best..finger lickin’ good,” Madonna spouts out on the oh, so double entendre laced “Where Life Begins”), indeed Erotica was a sex album for the ages. And guess what? It still is…and there’s a good chance those soccer Mom’s eventually did the nasty to it because it really is that fucking good. And when it comes to “Rain,” one of the the best ballads ever god damn recorded? Well, we’re still drippin’ and livin’ for all things Erotic….a

Mariah Carey/Daydream   As much as ’97’s Butterfly is the MC album that settled the diva into a more R&B laced territory, it was her fifth studio set that started to pointed the singer’s fancy heels in a new musical direction. From the Tom Tom Club sampling stomp of “Fantasy” to the Jermaine Dupri perfected “Always Be My Baby” (Camp Mariah, anyone?) to the dearly departed pearl clutching fodder that’s still laced in the Boyz 2 Men co-starring “One Sweet Day” (which is still the longest running Billboard Hot 100 #1 single..ever), it’s Daydream that started to turn Mariah into Ma…rye..uh…and for this Mimi moment of truth we shall forever be thankful. Isn’t that right, Mr. O.D.B? Yes. And of course, “Underneath the Stars” and “Open Arms” for life. 

Cathy Dennis/Into the Skyline If there are any of you out there who might be shaking their heads in wondering who Cathy Dennis is, first of all, shame on you, second..listen up and then let’s fucking dance. Not only is Ms. Dennis’ sophomore set loaded with lip smacking’ ’90s dance flavor(“Why,” “You Lied to Me,” “Falling,” “Everybody Get Up”), but the English Breakfast tea sipping dance diva has also penned and produced many, many pop hits over the decades including Kylie’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” Britney’s “Toxic,” Katy’s “I Kissed a Girl,” Janet’s “Island Life” and many, many more. There’s really nothing left to say here except bow down and let’s keep movin’ to everything served up by the one-and-only, Ms. Cathy Dennis. 

Cyndi Lauper/Bring Ya to the Brink    With a slew of producers including Max Martin, Kleerup and Basement Jaxx, everyone’s favorite Unusual gal cooked up one of the best dance pop records of the late ’00s…it’s just a shame that no one paid attention to it as it’s a truly mah-valelous studio set. From the twerks and thumps of “Rocking Chair,” “High and Mighty,” “Lay Me Down,” “Lyfe,” “Same Ol’ Story,” “Give it Up,” and the simply gay-mazing lead single,”Into the Nightlife,”(the video was shot at now closed NYC gay hot spot, Splash), Ms. Cyndi’s ninth studio set is one that everyone should experience at least one or two hundred times in their lifetimes. Meaning..right now. Go. 

Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine/Let it Loose  While pretty much every track and single (“Betcha Say That,” “1-2-3,” “Surrender,” “Love Toy”) served up from Ms. Estefan and her merry MSM band mates’ sophomore set taught us to bailar por el resto de nuestras vidas, we also learned a valuable life lesson here…..that indeed the “Rhythm is Gonna Get You.” And when it comes to this still fiery record..we might as well let it. Now, dance..todos los dias..because we must when it comes to not just this set, but all of these diva offerings. Let us bow our heads and..go. 

For Part One…..click here. 

For Part Two…..click here. 

Cover photo courtesy of Billboard 

 

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15 More Diva Records to Always Be Musically Thankful For

A Divasgiving blessing…..

Bless these divas and all of their tracks.

Bless these albums because they’ve all still got it like that.

Enjoy!

Cher/’Believe’ Let’s not fuck around because this album. While any record from the unstoppable diva’s collection of werk is well equipped for a spot on these lists (here’s part one) it’s her ’99 opus that gained the legend a whole new fanbase while making us serve on the dance floor to tracks, “Strong Enough” and “All or Nothing.” But most of all, it taught us that indeed there is life after love, and for that we’ll always be god damn grateful to this album. 

Madonna/’The Immaculate Collection’ Does this one really need an explanation? Just bow down and listen to all of the Material Girl greatness. 

Aaliyah/’One in a Million’ There’s just so much to say about the dearly departed ‘Liyah’s sophomore set. But since great music awaits us, let’s just say that it’s a smooth, silky ride that introduced us to the names “Missy” and “Timbo” while sweeping us into a whole new wave of late ’90s R&B that we’ll never forget. Now, bow your heads, give thanks, praise and then dance to the album’s timeless title groove.

Mariah Carey/’The Emancipation of Mimi’ Whether you live, live to loathe or just straight up loathe, you have to admit that MC’s ’05 comeback record is simply the truth, dah-ling. At nearly twenty million copies sold worldwide, Mariah proved she still had it like that as evident is the Jermaine Dupri owned singles, “It’s Like That,” the Calgon promoting “Shake it Off,” and the gut wrenching blockbuster ballad, “We Belong Together,” which still has us reaching for a Kleenex upon every single listen (perhaps now more than ever?), especially when the future star of Mariah’s World hits all those high notes that she most likely can’t strike anymore. 

Britney Spears/’In the Zone’ The baby sister of Blackout if you will, Brit Brit’s fourth record was definitely not in the Mickey Mouse Club anymore, but still packed with plenty of hip shakin’ pop music fodder, as proven in pretty much every track, including “Me Against the Music,” “Showdown,” “Touch of My Hand,” and perhaps one of the most underrated songs of Ms. Spears’ career, the deep house wrapped, “Breathe on Me.” Sigh…

And imagine a world without “Toxic?” It’s like Thanksgiving without that one family member who asks you why you haven’t settled down yet. Because you’re listening to Britney, bitch. 

Rihanna/’Good Girl Gone Bad:Reloaded’ The album that transformed Rihanna into RiRi and into basically that bitch, for her third studio romp, Ms. Fenty served us with much more of her trademark Barbadian sass through straight up jams like “Shut Up & Drive,” “Breakin’ Dishes,” “Push Up On Me,” “Disturbia,” “Take a Bow,” “Please Don’t Stop the Music” and the one-and-only, “Umbrella…ella…ella eh.” Perfection. 

Celine Dion/”The Colour of My Love” Four words sum this (slightly underrated) Ms. Dion experience all sorts of up–“The Power of Love.” Enough said. 

And for that music matter, respect must be paid to original “Power” owner, the dearly departed Laura Branigan. 

Beyonce/’Dangerously in Love’ Okay, put down the pitchforks. While, yas queen, we we’re blessed with Lemonade this year, the albums on this list are more of a classic variety, with each one having strutted into our lives more than five years ago. 

Okay, now that that’s settled, Dangerously in Love is basically the reason why you have a new/or lack of respect for girls named Becky and the main reason why you ain’t never gonna be sorry for being more of a crazed Bey fan than ever before. Just think, where would our lives bey without “Crazy in Love,” “Baby Boy,” “Hip Hop Star,” “Be With You” “Naughty Girl” or “Me, Myself and I?” Absolutely nowhere near the Lemonade stand. 

Hole/”Live Through This” If there was ever a time to appreciate the ’90s angst ridden flow of Courtney Love and friends masterful breakthrough sophomore set…it’s right this very god damn second. Meaning, put on “Doll Parts,” “Violet” and “Miss World” and try not to feel a little something relevant. 

Madonna/Confessions on a Dance Floor If there was any diva who could get us to confess all of our sins in the most strobe lit way possible, it’s certainly Ms. Madonna who took us straight to disco heaven and beyond on her twelfth studio record and has kept us there ever since.

That’s not to say that Madge didn’t need to go back her dance floor mother ship (we’re waiting, Gaga) after ’03’s American Life happened, but we’re so glad she did because a world without “Hung Up,” “Get Together,” “Jump,” “Sorry,” “Future Lovers” and “Let It Will Be” just doesn’t make any sense…at all. 

Whitney Houston/’My Love is Your Love’ “Clap your hands y’all, it’s alright.” As long as we have this record by our beloved Whitney in our collection, how could it not be? And “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” and the Faith Evans/Kelly Price co-starring “Heartbreak Hotel” for all of music eternity. #singmommy 

Toni Braxton/Self-titled Before she straight un-broke our hearts and got us all musically  love stoned in ’96, Mizz Toni Braxton struck on the scene in ’93 with her sensual debut, which sounds just as baby makin’ ready as it did nearly twenty five years ago. (da fuck?) If you’re not ready to get it to “Another Sad Love Song,” “Breathe Again,” “How Many Ways,” and “You Mean the World to Me,” call your doctor for a Cialis prescription right the fuck away. 

Paula Abdul/’Forever Your Girl’ Try not feeling gay as fuck when getting down to this cherished ’80s album by our pint sized Paula and all of its energetic singles–“The Way That You Love Me,” “Straight Up,” “Cold Hearted,” “Opposites Attract,”(MC Skat Cat!),”Knocked Out” and the album’s saucy title track…it’s just not possible. And for that reason, you betta werk, Ms. Abdul. See you in June. 

Gwen Stefani/Love. Angel. Music. Baby. While T. Swift served up ’80s realness with her chart defying 1989 set a few years ago, Ms. Gwen Stefani came along a decade prior and quite frankly….did it better. Besides cooking up a record that’s full of Rubix Cubed life (and plenty of Ms. Stefani’s trademark vocal cooes), LAMB still plays out as gum cracking sassed as it did back in ’04, especially when you crank up the synth whirled goodness of “Rich Girl,” “Cool,” “Serious,” “Luxurious” “Crash” and “What You Waiting For.” 

Of course, there’s no explanation needed when it comes to “Hollaback Girl” because it’s still our shit and the reason why you’ve never misspelled “banana” ever again. Uh-huh. 

Pink/’Missundaztood’ The last spot on this year’s list is giving it up to our local girl Pink because not only is her sophomore set still an unquestionable slice of diva music truth (god damn you, “Just Like a Pill”), but it just turned fifteen years old this week, which is all the more reason to crank the carefully constructed angst-y pop grooves all the way up. Right, grandma? I see you gettin’ down to “Get the Party Started.” 

See you at the diva table next year…

Janet’s The Velvet Rope….Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream….Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue….Poe’s Hello and…..????. Until then.

Happy Divasgiving! 

Don’t forget about part one, too! 

 

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15 Underrated Mariah Carey Singles

When it comes to Ms. Mariah, her and Philly Mixtape certainly go on like babies and pacifiers. Say what you want about the elusive window shattering diva these days, but there was a time that this glittery bitch was unstoppable, delivering hit-after-hit, 18 #1 singles, and a voice that only certain kinds of dogs and dolphins could hear. While yes, her range isn’t quite as powerful as it was back when she first struck summer radio with “Vision of Love” 25 years ago, but there’s no doubt that her impressive music catalog shrieks for itself.

While we could absolutely sit here all day and sort through all those classic Mariah goodies that we know and attempt to sing at karaoke, MC has had a whole octave full of other single releases that didn’t quite hit the note on the Billboard charts. Now, putting this list together of underrated singles wasn’t the easiest one to put together (except for tracks like “Crybaby” and “Can’t Take That Away(Mariah’s Theme)” No.), but this serving of 15 underrated Mariah grooves will indeed have you hitting those high notes all diva day long. 

 

“Can’t Let Go”

After her first five singles went straight to #1, this second Emotions single stalled at #2…which is probably why no one ever mentions it. 

“Without You”

With two of her trademark singles, “Dreamlover” and “Hero” bulldozing the charts before this 3rd Music Box single, it’s easy to forget just how incredible her take on Nilsson’s trademark tune was. 

“Anytime You Need a Friend”

…we will play that this one at full blast. 

“Now That I Know”

Top notch dance production from David Cole and Robert Clivilles, plus Mariah’s incredible vocal prowess equals what arguably could be one of her best tracks….ever recorded. 

“Underneath the Stars”

Sigh….

“The Roof”

Slinky, sexy Mariah at her very best…and that Mobb DeepShook Ones” sample just gets to werk. 

“Breakdown”

Another slinky Mariah groove that is one of her most personal “I Hate Tommy Mottola” tracks to date.

“Sweetheart”

Deliciously underrated Mariah at her very best. 

“Thank God I Found You”

While it’s certainly no “One Sweet Day,” it’s still a dreamy dish of a #1 single that is probably the least listened to out of all 18 of them. 

“Through The Rain”

Post-TRL and pre-Mimi…..no wonder why nobody really cared.

“It’s Like That”

Because we live for Fatman Scoop…and for the line, “Them chickens is ash and I’m lotion.” Classic. 

“Get Your Number”

How many of you have actually seen this video before? Thought so…

Up Out My Face”

Before Mariah and Nicki held hoops on American Idol, they actually got along…well…on this track, anyway. 

“I’m That Chick”

Wasn’t technically a single, but it damn well should’ve been–it’s one of Mariah’s best later career tunes. Let’s not forget, she also “performed” this on the defunct MTV show, The Hills

“You Don’t Know What to Do”

If her Elusive adventure was laced with more disco ditties like this one, it might’ve lasted longer on the charts. #alltruth