post

10 Non-Holiday Records to Help Chill You Out this Holiday Season

Oh, it’s the most wonderful….and stressful time of the year. 

Admit it, while you’d like everything to be picture perfect every holiday season, there’s indeed moments where you……just want to cut an elf. 

We’re only human, right? It’s only natural to get a touch angst-y when driving around the mall for thirty minutes looking for a parking space. And you might have a bout of angered heat stroke because this is the time of year where every store feels like a million degrees and this long ass line you’re in sure isn’t helping anything.

And wait, there’s how many dogs on my shopping list this year?? Da f@#k? 

Yes, it all gets a little too extra this time of year. And while the jinglin’ beats of Mariah, Bing and Britney (plus trillions more) surely get the job done when it’s time feel all festive and stuff, they tend to have less an effect when you’re having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the Target parking lot. 

With that being said, it’s time to take a big ol’ seat (hey, it’s been a year..we all deserve it), kick back, take a sip, take a puff, and let the blissful non-jinglin’ sounds of Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light,’ Pure Moods, Jody Watley, Gorgon City, Miguel Migs, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Sade, and the late, and still very great, Ms. Aaliyah help you get back to the true meaning of the spirit of the holidays. 

And searching high and low to find that perfect gift your co-worker’s Pomeranian isn’t it. No shade, Linda, no shade. 

Happy relaxing!! 

Aaliyah/All of Them While we may never know just where Ms. Aaliyah would be in her career if she were still with us today (anyone else ponder that thought, like, all of the time??), what we do know is that her precious catalog will always be the de-stressful gift that keeps on giving year after year. There’s simply no denying that the late diva’s hits like, “Back & Forth,” “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number,” “Try Again,” “One in a Million,” “More than a Woman” and “Rock the Boat,” (just to name a delightful few) will always contain those special vibes to help us take a seat when it all gets a little too “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” this time of year. Plus, each one of ‘Liyah’s grooves reserve a certain type of sexy flair that’s still just so fly…not even your grandma can deny it.  Truth. Rest in Peace, Ms. Aaliyah.

Best of Pure Moods  Imagine a world where we couldn’t escape our troubles and sail away with the worlds greatest Celtic Diva, Ms. Enya? Yes, clutch those pearls because…..it would be like December without Christmas….truly shudder to think. And when you take a select few of her greatest sonnets and pair them up with the life brightening/pondering/wondering/living sounds and beats of DJ Dado (hey, ‘X Files’ theme), Enigma, Kenny G(!!), Robert Miles and David Byrne, among many others, well, you get one of the best damn reasons to actually have stress during the holidays. And bonus points if you remember those Time Life infomercials at your 2 a.m. drunk time in the late ’90s. Really, how can we ever, ever forget? But luckily for all of us, this compilation still has it and serves it out of the runway of this thing we call…life. Or is it? Either way, Pure Moods will always take us…there. 

 

Madonna/’Ray of Light’   First, it must be noted that Ms. Madge’s magnificent post-Lourdes outing turned twenty this year, so global respect must be paid. Second, well, that pretty much sums it all up as this record still holds to the key to the power of you just chillin’ the f@ck out this month. Whether it’s the soft, layered vocals delivered by the Kabbalah-worthy Material Girl on every track, or the spiritually charged production whirl of Ray beat master, William Orbit, there’s not a Scrooge in the world who won’t check themselves when it comes to this album…and yes, that means you. So, step into the Light because it’s gettin’ a bit stressful out there, and even if it’s not…do it. Your red stringed aura will thank you. 

Bonnie Raitt/Luck of the Draw  Yes, go ahead…get a little tipsy at the work holiday party and belt out “Can’t Make You Love Me” because he/she just broke up with you a few weeks before the holidays and it’s truly the only way to ease the pain without doing something to getting arrested/and/or get a restraining order. Hey, it’s the holidays, a touch of break up angst is bound to happen for some. But for those who may not be living the life of one of the most heartbreaking/real tracks ever recorded, the rest of the legendary Ms. Raitt’s 1990 breakthrough record has a little something for everybody and it will give them something to talk about…the days when music sounded as pure and smooth as this. Prepare to float and leave those December worries/that dreadful ex behind courtesy of everyone’s favorite Bonnie. 

Gorgon City/’Sirens’/’Escape’  Since it’s an unwritten rule that there’s absolutely no stress allowed on the dance floor at any times, let UK beat maestros Gorgon City take you well away from the ugh of it all and lead you under those shiny disco balls all holiday season long and beyond with their collection of werk. From hard-hitting romps (“Ready For Your Love,” “Go Deep,” “Kingdom”) to bubbly life-isms (“Night Drive,” “Here For You,” “All Four Walls”) to wondering if you’re going to snatch that Tinder/Grindr date just in time for the holidays (“Lover Like You”), Gorgon City has got a beat to get down to for you and yours..right now. So, drop that list and slowly step away from that mile-long gift wrapping line, these therapeutic grooves are calling you and it’s time to go..deep into the dancefloor. Yes. And bonus points if you request (be good to those DJs, y’all) GC’s JHud collaboration, “Go All Night,” at your holiday office party…that employee of the month spot is as good as yours. 

Miguel Migs/’Outside the Skyline’/’Dim Division’   After you’re done sweatin’ out the stress thanks to the power of all of it provided by Gorgon City, take a seat to a serving of an even deeper life whirled up by San Francisco dance mogul, Miguel Migs. With each slow, steady breath of each one of the tracks on not one, but two of his sensational full length sets, it’s almost a guarantee that not only will you be brought back to life after the six-hour shopping excursion you just put yourself through, but you might just become a better person and feel bad about throwing shade to that Salvation Army Santa..maybe..probably not. But either way, you’ll get to the know the names Lisa Shaw and Meshell N’degeocello and all shade and hate will be cast aside. It’s that powerful…it’s deep house, kids, and it can truly lead to holiday miracles. Listen up. 

Fleetwood Mac/Greatest Hits While any one of the legendary rockers’ studio sets are guaranteed to give you and your silk scarves a night of twirlin’ like nobody’s watchin,’ their greatest hits collection is where it’s at when you need to unwind from the holiday madness–“Rhiannon,” “Gypsy,” “Little Lies,” “Hold Me,” “Dreams,” “Everywhere.” They’re all blissfully right here. And even if you want to use “Don’t Stop” as your last-minute shopping anthem, it’s all good as long as these undeniable grooves are contentedly filling your stocking…of life. Ready, set, twirl. And who’s ready to see them take over Wells Fargo Center on April 5th? Everyone and their AHS lovin’ mother. 

Sade/Greatest Hits   Sorry, there’s just nothing to say here because silence is preferred when it comes to getting lost in every single of these life-altering numbers. “Hang on to Your Love,” “No Ordinary Love,” ‘The Sweetest Taboo,” ‘Soldier of Love,” Smooth Operator.” Yes, yes and ahhhh. But you see, what it really comes down to….is that if you don’t feel just a tinge of reinvented well-being when taking in Sade’s greatest grooves, then you really are The Grinch…really. 

Jody Watley/’Paradise’   While indeed it’s absolutely necessary to let that perm down and cut a rug to any one of Ms. Watley’s late ’80s/early ’90s treasures (“Don’t You Want Me”…yes), there’s just something special about her 2014 set as it’s laced with any kind of vibe you could ever want to fall into. Because you know what they say, a little disco(“Nightlife”), a little funk (“The Dawn”), and a little diva makes everything nice. But perhaps it’s stated best in closer, “Sanctuary” with the line, “De-stress, unwind…cherish the time,” as that what’s it’s truly about this time of year…not your panicked state. So, calm down and..enjoy your damn life. This album will certainly help, and it’s Ms. Watley we’re reveling in, so immediate respect must be paid. 

Your Very Own….Since this time of year is all about using your imagination, close your eyes and let the stress of the holiday season lead you miles away from the nearest elf. Because sometimes it’s not all Mariah, candy canes and Santa’s lap, and it’s all good.

Have a happy, healthy and (slightly) stress free holiday, everyone!! 

Cover photo courtesy of Sade and, like, life and stuff. 

post

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 

 

post

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….