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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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Groove of the Day/Janet/Blackstreet/”i Get Lonely”

Does this one really need an explanation?

Most likely not because one, it’s Janet, and two, you’ve most likely already owned the sexy, sassy, ready Tina Landon helmed choreography that’s all up in the steamy video for Ms. Janet’s third single from The Velvet Rope, the Blackstreet assisted “I Get Lonely,” like, three times today. 

To the very few out there who may not be familiar with this track and the flawless album it calls home (go right here…right now) waste absolutely no time in jumping into it all right now. Your Wednesday/life will thank you and then some. 

And again….it’s Ms. Janet…..dance. 

 

 

This year’s grooves sound like….

 

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5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016/Philly Edition

In week five of Philly Mixtape’s ‘5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016,’ we’re keeping it musically real in the City of Brotherly Love by reminiscing on landmark albums from some of Philly’s most recognizable music artists, including Hall & Oates, Boyz II Men, Joan Jett, Will Smith, P!nk, and of course, Mr. DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Hall & Oates/Private Eyes/35 YO Although the legendary local music duo had hit the upper reaches of the Billboard charts prior to Private Eyes with ’70s hits, “She’s Gone,” “Sara Smile”, and “Rich Girl,” they didn’t return to major mainstream success until the early ’80s–and it was this album that helped put them there.

Loaded with that smoothly undeniable Hall & Oates sound, which was all over singles, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” the album’s title track (both songs also hit #1) and “Did it in a Minute,” Private Eyes eventually went platinum and helped the Philly music gentleman onto one hell of a career path in the ’80s and beyond.

It should also be musically noted that “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” also spent a week at the top of the R&B charts, which was a rare accomplishment for a white band. It’s all another reason to celebrate what a landmark album Private Eyes truly is, and you can bet that Hall & Oates will be celebrating their ’80s breakthrough record when they hit the stage at the BB&T Pavillion this upcoming July 10th. 

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts/I Love Rock and Roll/35 YO The second studio album by Joan Jett and the first to feature her backing band The Blackhearts, I Love Rock and Roll would not just make the whole entire music world fall in love with the legendary rock goddess, but the electrified title track would go on to become a karaoke staple around the globe.

The album became Ms. Jett’s most successful album to date with over 10 million copies sold, which was largely due to the success of the title track, which was released as a single soon after the album was released. What you may not know is that the original “I Love Rock and Roll” was written and recorded by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker of Arrows, and after Jett saw them perform the juke box anthem live, she was was taken away by it and it quickly became a staple of her set list for 7 years before the album was even recorded.

Judging by how many times you’ve screamed it out at your local karaoke night, we’re so glad she did, and of course, so is Ms. Britney Spears, whose own version of “I Love Rock and Roll” has been playing on in her just rebooted Britney Piece of Me Las Vegas residency. 

Boyz II Men/Cooleyhighharmony/25 YO The harmonizing debut album from one of Philly’s biggest music success stories, Cooleyhighharmony was met with rave reviews upon its release a-quarter-of-a-century (!) ago. Written by group members Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman with production by ’90s super producer, Dallas Austin, the album went on to sell nine million copies worldwide thanks to thunderous lead single “Motown Philly,” which would help push follow-up their follow-up record, II, to even greater heights on the Billboard album charts. 

The album also came out at the peak of the early ’90s New Jack swing era, as fellow R&B acts like Bell Biv Devoe and ABC (hey, “Iesha”), we’re already dancing all over the charts. The Boyz’ Grammy winning set was truly the icing on the cake in a time for music that no one will ever forget anytime soon.

And you know what else we will never forget? That time on Full House when Ms. Stephanie Judith Tanner tore the roof of the place with her choreographed take on “Motown Philly.” Absolutely priceless. #soon 

Dj Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince/Homebase/25 YO Whenever we think of DJ Jazzy Jeff’s & The Fresh Prince’s fourth studio set, there’s truly only one track that comes to mind–the Grammy award-winning lead single, “Summertime.” The perfect blend of Mr. Smith’s on point rap delivery mixed with that  Kool & The Gang “Summer Madness” sample, Ms. Perry’s “California Gurls” can take a seat to this one-of-a-kind sun-kissed anthem. 

If you’ll also remember, Will Smith was already flying high when “Summertime” hit the airwaves in ’91 as his NBC Monday night comedy, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, had just wrapped up a stellar first season. As we all know, Smith would eventually become one of the biggest movie stars on he planet in the mid ’90s, with the breezy, catchy flow of “Summertime” becoming another accomplishment that helped him get his star on the rise. 

P!nk/M!ssundaztood/15 YO Hard to believe, but it was fifteen years ago this year that P!nk gave her La Face record label boss, Mr. L.A. Reid, the middle finger after she wanted to stray away from the R&B influence of her debut record, Can’t Take Me Home and venture into more rock pop territory with her sophomore set. Lucky for us, Mr. Reid listened (did he really have a choice?) and she delivered not just one hell of a career defining album, but one that sold more than three times it predecessor. 

Led by the rousing, “Get the Party Started,” M!ssundaztood was a hit straight-out-of-the-music gate that was packed full of P!nk’s prowess alongside collaborations with 4 Non Blondes Linda Perry, who beautifully helmed most of the record.  Along with “Party,” three more top 20 singles were released from the set, including “Don’t Let Me Get Me” “Just Like a Pill” and “Family Portrait.”

M!ssundazstood would not only prove that Ms. Moore knew how to put out one hell of a slaying pop music moment in time, but that she knew what the f#$k she was doing when it came to following and trusting her music instincts. Because really, that’s why we still love her so much.