Mannheim Steamroller: How To Have A ‘Steamroller Christmas’
Christmastime is known for many things: presents, spending time with family, presents, goodwill towards others, presents, The Nativity, and presents. Did I mention I’m a 32 long? Another fixture of the holiday season is Chip Davis’ Mannheim Steamroller.
Mannheim Steamroller formed in 1974. After releasing a series of New Age albums, the band came out with Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. Ever since then they’ve been as synonymous with Christmas as ugly sweaters and last minute shopping.
The Steamroller’s popularity is based on the way they perform traditional Christmas music with electronic instruments in a New Age style. Through the years, Chip Davis and his cohorts have sold more than 40 million albums and hundreds of thousands of Mannheim Steamroller tickets.
If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit, or you just want to stay jolly, you should definitely seek out the Steamroller. Below are the many ways in which you can enjoy one of the greatest purveyors of Christmas music not named Bing Crosby.
Mannheim Steamroller Albums
The easiest way to get your Steamroller on is to download one of their Christmas albums. They’ve released 13 as of Christmas 2013. Their best works include Manheim Steamroller Christmas, A Fresh Aire Christmas, Christmas in the Aire, and Christmas Extraordinaire. If you’re not ready to buy a full Mannheim Steamroller album, then just download the track “Deck the Halls.” It’s the song that started it all.
Christmas Symphony & Christmas Symphony II
Both of the Christmas Symphony albums feature, for the first time, Mannheim Steamroller playing with—yes, you guessed it—a symphony. To be exact, the Steamroller plays with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The second installment dropped this past October. Songs you’ll find on these albums include “Joy to the World,” “We Three Kings,” “Deck The Halls,” and “Little Drummer Boy.”
Mannheim Steamroller Live
For the past several years, Mannheim Steamroller has toured the U.S. in late November and December. Their shows are in such huge demand that Davis has created several version of the Steamroller. For example, Mannheim Steamroller will perform in Denver on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Meanwhile, another incarnation will be in Greenvale, New York on Nov. 30 and Harford, Connecticut on Dec. 1. It doesn’t matter which touring band you see because they all rock—well, they rock as much as one can while performing Christmas carols.
Yet another version of the Steamroller has been booked for six shows at Universal Orlando on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, and 22. Those dates all land on a Thursday or Friday. The band will be performing on the Music Plaza stage.
Mannheim Steamroller On Television
Mannheim Steamroller will have a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This will be the fourth year in a row that the Steamroller has appeared in the historic parade. Then on Dec. 1 (the Sunday after T-Giving), world class figure skaters will perform to the music of Mannheim Steamroller in NBC’s “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice.” The show (recorded in Jacksonville in early November) will be hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi, Michael Weiss, and the man himself, Chip Davis. Skaters include Brian Boitano, Kimmie Meissner, and Ilia Kulik. Check your local listings for an exact broadcast time.
November 26, 2013
Mannheim Steamroller: How To Have A ‘Steamroller Christmas’
November 14, 2013
Paul Simon and Sting Announce Joint Tour
He started in the northeast folk-rock movement of the mid-1960s. His new partner started in London’s punk/new wave movement of the late 1970s. Now in 2013, the likeliest of unlikely pairings have announced a tour.
The two musicians I’m talking about are Paul Simon and Sting. The superstars are set to begin their historic trek Feb. 8 in Houston, Texas. It will wrap March 16 in Orlando, Florida. Right now, there are 18 dates booked including stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. I know these two performers are a combined 134 years old but if they have any energy left after March 16 their schedule is getting extended.
The "Paul Simon and Sting: On Stage Together" will contain solo sets by each artist as well as a session where both men perform together (that’s really what you’re paying to see).
The upcoming collaboration stems from an April jam session the two artists shared; Simon and Sting had assembled to raise money for a charity. After their set, they looked at each other and knew they had stumbled onto to something special.
While both men are icons and legends, their pairing crosses both eras and genres. Simon is a product of the 1960s, he’s American, and a folk-rock artist that has dabbled in world music. Sting became a house hold name in the early 1980s, he’s British, and is associated with just about every genre of music except for folk. They were both born in October but a decade apart. That makes Simon 72 and Sting 62.
The team of Simon and Sting got Musicology-101 thinking about similar match-ups—musicians from different eras who have just one thing in common, greatness. Below are three sets of such musicians that we’d love to see tour together.
Dave Matthews and John Mayer
Jam band-folk rock meets guitar-heavy effeminate pop. A Dave Matthews and John Mayer joint tour would be every romantic hippie’s wet dream. It would be acoustic guitar vs. electric guitar. “Tripping Billies” vs. “Paper Doll.” By the way, DM was born in 1967 and JM in 1977 although their careers are only separated by about seven years.
Rob Thomas and Kelly Clarkson
Rob Thomas and Kelly Clarkson are a decade apart in age but fairly similar in the type of music they sing. Even so, Thomas leans a little more rock while Clarkson leans a little more pop. Also, Thomas is your quintessential singer-songwriter while Clarkson is more of your straight-ahead diva. This teaming is quite improbable as the only artists who want anything to do with Clarkson are country musicians.
Jack Johnson and Bruno Mars
Jack Johnson was born May 18, 1975. More than a decade later, on Oct. 8, 1985, Bruno Mars entered the world. They may have been born a decade apart but they both hail from Hawaii. Johnson is from North Shore while Mars calls Honolulu home. If you think about, this would be a great show. Johnson’s laid-back folk would complement Mars’ Top 40-infused soul. I can’t wait to see them perform together.
November 6, 2013
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull & Other Rock Band’s Sixth Albums
For a moment, it looked like Kings of Leon were done. Well, rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated. The band is not only still together, but they just released their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull, and have announced plans for a tour. Kings of Leon tickets will be collected beginning Feb. 5, 2014 in Atlanta. They have 16 dates planned but the quartet insists more are coming. The last of those 16 concerts is a Kings of Leon show in Chicago.
KoL’s Mechanical Bull debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and number one in the U.K. Like most of their works, it received positive reviews from critics. With Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon entered the six-album club. Expect to hear several songs from album number half-dozen at upcoming Kings of Leon concerts in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. To celebrate their achievement, Musicology-101 looks at six prominent U.S. bands and their sixth albums. Our list includes entries from KISS, Aerosmith, and Bon Jovi and spans more than 35 years.
KISS – Love Gun (1977)
Love Gun was both a successful album and a landmark in KISS history. It was the first KISS album where all four members sang lead and the last to feature the four original members on every track. As far as album sales goes, Love Gun received a Platinum certification just two weeks after its release. That’s unheard of in today’s climate but in the late 1970s it was only good enough for number four on the Billboard 200. The album’s lead single was “Christine Sixteen.”
Eagles – The Long Run (1979)
Although they released another album in 2007, the Eagles’ The Long Run is very much their version of The Beatles’ Let It Be (minus the Phil Spector production). The Long Run was the last number one album of the 1970s. It went on to sell seven million copies. The LP contains the classic Eagles songs “The Long Run,” “In The City,” and “Heartache Tonight.” It was also the first album not to feature Randy Meisner and the last to feature Don Felder.
Aerosmith – Night In The Ruts (1979)
Joe Perry quit Aerosmith halfway through the recording of Night in the Ruts. How did that happen? While making the album, the band’s record label ordered them to return to the road to generate some income—they were way over their recording budget. The subsequent tour was hastily put together and greatly strained Perry’s relationship with the rest of Aerosmith. He quit the group mid-way through the tour, and by extension, mid-way through the recording of Night in the Rust. His official replacement was Jimmy Crespo (a member of Aerosmith from 1979 to 1984). The album suffered sluggish sales and marked the band’s transition from hard rock to a more polished, radio-friendly rock sound.
Van Halen – 1984 (1984)
Van Halen’s 1984 is one of the defining albums of the 1980s. It propelled Van Halen to worldwide fame, helped put MTV on the map, and fused heavy metal with pop music to pave the way for a slew of hair bands. Needless to say, 1984 is Van Halen’s bestselling album. The opus contains “Jump,” “Panama,” “Hot For Teacher,” and “I’ll Wait.”
Bon Jovi – These Days (1995)
These Days was released in the period after Bon Jovi’s heyday and before they were cool again. Critics liked the album but it only peaked at number nine in the U.S. It did however do very well in the United Kingdom and Japan. It spent four weeks at #1 in the U.K. and was the fastest selling album by a foreign artist in the history of Nippon. These Days is the first Bon Jovi album released after the firing of Alec John Such.
Pearl Jam – Binaural (2000)
For their sixth album, Pearl Jam recorded several tracks using the binaural recording technique. That technique uses two microphones to create 3-D stereo sound. As a listener you must use headphones to get the three dimensional sound effect. Obviously, Binaural was slobbered over by critics but it was the band’s first album not to be certified platinum. Production was marred by Eddie Vedder’s writer’s block and Mike McCready’s stint in drug rehab. Binaural produced the singles “Nothing as it Seems” and “Light Years.”
October 24, 2013
Pixies Tour: Deal’s Departure Creating Two Camps
Earlier in 2013, Kim Deal officially left the Pixies. She departed the group when they were on the eve of recording new material and months from launching a massive world tour. Her sudden exeunt, while not surprising (she’s been at odds with frontman Black Francis for years), has set off a chain of events, some foreseeable and some not.
The first domino to fall was the decision to replace her. Jeremy Dubs was used in the studio and another “Kim,” Kim Shattuck, was tapped to be her analog on the road. You might think a bass player would be easy to replace but Deal’s musicianship and voice were major components to the Pixies’ sound. Also, Deal is something of, as critic James Hall wrote, an “indie demigoddess.” Those who’ve had Pixies tickets in the past will notice a big difference in the band’s sound.
The next thing to happen was journalists, critics, and bloggers started using the phrase “Deal or no Deal.” If you ask me, that’s worse than Deal actually leaving the band. The pun is pretty much the worst thing to happen to popular music since the “Foo Fighter’s Grohl-ing Tour” headline.
Now, with the North American leg of their tour set to begin Jan. 15 in Toronto, fans are starting to split into two camps. Those who believe the current incarnation of the group (with Shattuck) are actually the Pixies and those who believe the fractured ensemble is nothing more than a Black Francis backup band.
Deal’s departure is far from the first event to cause such a schism. All throughout rock history, departures, deaths, and new musical directions have irked fans and split their fan base. Below, Musicology-101 looks at five bands/artists that have experienced factions among their supporters.
David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Haggar
Perhaps no band has created such a division among their fans than Van Halen did when they ejected David Lee Roth and picked up Sammy Hagger back in 1985. Few fans like both versions. You either like one or the other. It should be said that both singers led Van Halen through eras of tremendous success.
Steve Perry vs. Anyone Else
Steve Perry was not Journey’s first singer but he’s the one that sang all their hits. Journey has employed three crooners since Perry’s departure in 1998. No matter whom they hire many fans think Journey without Perry is a nothing more than a tribute band.
Before Black Album vs. After Black Album
There’s a common meme among rock snobs. They love a band when they’re relatively unknown but loathe them after they’ve hit it big. That’s what happened when Metallica released their insanely successful “Black Album.” Not only did the record propel them to worldwide fame but it caused a riven amongst their disciples. Some would have rather the thrash quartet kept their cult following while others welcomed the band’s veer towards a more mainstream brand of metal.
Bon Scott vs. Brian Johnson
This split isn’t really anyone’s fault as Bon Scott tragically died in 1980. Encouraged to keep performing by Scott’s family, AC/DC hired Brian Johnson. Now, Scott sang on some of the band’s most iconic songs like “T.N.T.,” “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” and “Highway to Hell.” However, Brian Johnson fronted the band when they made Back in Black, one of the bestselling albums of all-time. Scott’s death didn’t really cost the band any fans but their hardcore faithful are still debating which lead singer, and ultimately which version of the band, is the best.
Ozzy Osbourne vs. Ronnie James Dio
The Ozzy vs. Dio war used to be red hot but now it runs luke warm. Even so, you’ll still find metal heads who swear by one singer or the other. Part of the reason why this was such a fierce debate is for the longest time critics hated Black Sabbath. That has changed in the last decade or so. Black Sabbath of the 1970s is finally getting their due and getting recognized for being innovators and pioneers. The renaissance of the band’s image has definitely helped Osbourne. Still, Dio has a lot of fans who preferred him at the helm of Black Sabbath.
October 2, 2013
Cher: Why She’s A Legend
Cher is a bona fide legend and a cultural icon. Yet, her career began in the 1960s. Young people might look at her and wonder why she’s such a big deal. They might think she’s nothing more than some old lady with a great plastic surgeon or Demi Lovato’s grandmother.
In truth, Cher has the talent of Barbra Streisand, the ability to reinvent herself like Madonna, the artistry of Lady Gaga, and the courage of Pink. The closet current analog to Cher is probably Jennifer Lopez but even then Cher out does J-Lo in every category. Cher is also one of the few mega-celebrities that you could sit down with and have a beer. After all, she was married to Greg Allman.
Of course, those are just accolades. To really know Cher you need facts. Otherwise, my praises are the same as complaining about having to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways. That’s why Musicology-101 has put together a little primer on one of the most important divas of all-time. We firmly believe that every generation should know the accomplishments, and the impact, of the one and only Cher.
Cher was one half of the husband and wife folk duo Sonny & Cher. Their signature hit was “I’ve Got You Babe,” one of the biggest songs of the 1960s. As a solo artist, Cher’s biggest single is “Believe.” Not only was it the world’s bestselling single for 1998 and 1999, it helped pioneer the use of “Auto Tune.” As a solo artist, Cher has sold more than 100 million albums. With Sonny, she sold another 40 million. She just released her 26th studio album, Closer to the Truth, at 67.
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From 1971 to 1977 Cher was on television either hosting a variety show with Sonny Bono or hosting her own variety show. These programs showcased Cher’s comedic timing, her fabulous singing, and her daring outfits. Her shows were quality productions that attracted tens of millions of viewers and garnered several Emmy nominations. The best thing that can be said of Cher’s television career is her solo program was very popular but Sonny’s was not. In other words, people were tuning in to see Cher.
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In 1987, at the 60th Academy Awards, Cher won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film Moonstruck. The award propelled Cher to the upper echelon of Hollywood actors. Thanks to the gold statue, and the fact that she was box office gold, Cher demanded and received $1 million a film (which was a lot back then). Cher’s filmography also includes Silkwood, Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, Stuck on You, and Burlesque. In 1996, Cher made her directorial debut in If These Walls Could Talk. Bottom line, Cher can sell concert tickets and movie tickets.
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Cher is amazing live. In 2002, she launched her “Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.” The tour lasted nearly three years and saw Cher performing 326 shows in North America, Europe, and Oceania. The diva reportedly performed in front of 5.88 million people. Her concert in Miami was broadcasted on NBC over Thanksgiving weekend and was seen by more than 16 million people.
Since 1979, Cher has toured half-a-dozen times. That number includes her upcoming odyssey, the “Dressed To Kill Tour.” Cher has plotted 49 concerts in North America. Her trek kicks off March 22 in Phoenix and concludes July 11 in San Diego. Some of the smaller cities on her route are North Little Rock, Buffalo, Columbus, Des Moines, and Portland.
According to legend, Cher was the first woman to expose her navel on television. That’s what passed for scandalous in the early 1970s. From the very beginning Cher was a fashion trendsetter (she appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine 5 times). She helped popularized bell-bottoms, bare midriffs, and bandanas. Through the years, she has worked with fashion designer Bob Mackie. He has made her some of the most spectacular and sexy outfits imaginable. When you go to a Cher concert one of things to watch for is all of her costumes changes. Sometimes Cher’s outfits border on trashy but whatever she’s wearing the garment always celebrates her sex appeal, her individuality, and her fearlessness.
September 30, 2013
Florida Georgia Line Aims To Keep It Normal
Florida Georgia Line launches their “Here’s To The Good Times Tour 2013” on Oct. 3 in Brookings, South Dakota. The duo’s first headlining trek of their career ends Dec. 12 in Reno, Nevada. Country music’s hottest twosome is out and about collecting your Florida Georgia Line tickets to support their debut album Here’s to the Good Times.
Just think, this time two years ago, the pair didn’t even have a recording deal—they remained unsigned until December of 2011. Before the ink had dried on their contract, FGL were skyrocketing to super stardom on the wings of 2012’s best party anthem, “Cruise.” They followed that singles with two more hits, “Get Your Shine On” and “Round Here.”
Don’t expect their massive success to go to their heads. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Tyler Hubbard said: “Just treat us like normal dudes and be cool.” His partner Brian Kelley said “I think with the more success, it makes us want to work that much harder, and at the same time, give back more and be more normal.”
I have no doubt that Florida Georgia Line will keep their feet firmly on the ground and remain normal even if their career arch keeps its upward trajectory. Unfortunately, you can’t say that about every big-time musician. Sometimes fame goes to their head and they become eccentric—that’s the polite term for “cuckoo.” Below are a few musicians that will never be mistaken for “normal.” These are guys you’re not going to hang out with and have a beer.
Let’s begin with the low hanging fruit. Michael Jackson is the poster child for how fame can take the “normal” out of a person and make them “wacko.” MJ was never really “normal” as he began his career as a singer when he was eight years old and was a star before he was a teenager. There are many things I could say about Jackson’s eccentricities, but I come here not to bury The Gloved One but to praise him. He NEVER tried to buy the bones of the Elephant Man. He did however not deny the rumor. It was part of a publicity stunt and it backfired. Still, the King of Pop has done plenty of other stuff during his life to take him out of the running for ordinary, average guy.
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In 1991, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. That’s a little strange until you learn that he did it to stick it to his record company. In 2010, he said “the Internet’s completely over,” he’s knocked on doors to express his religious views as a Jehovah’s Witness, and he won’t let journalists record his interviews. Still, there is something that leads me to believe that Prince’s act is all an act. That is he is a Minnesota Vikings fan. Most Vikings fans are pretty down to Earth.
I can listen to Steven Patrick Morrissey’s music all day but I probably couldn’t stand being around him for more five minutes. While performing at an outdoor music festival in the U.S., Morrissey stormed off the stage in a middle of a song because “the smell of burning animals” was making him sick. Where was Morrissey performing? Was he next to a slaughter house, a rendering plant, or an incinerator? No, he was near a grill. He was referring to the smell of cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. For normal people that’s the smell of heaven.
>>For more information about Florida Georgia Line and guest Colt Ford in Los Angeles Click HERE!!!
Frank Zappa doesn’t really deserve to be on this list. While his music is out of this world, it would have been a blast and an honor to share a beer with the great Zappa (he died in 1993). I’ve included him in this rundown to raise awareness of his musical genius (download Zappa records now!) and because he named his kids Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet, and Diva. That ain’t right. Tyler and Brian would never do that to their kids.
Kanye West might be a pretty interesting fellow if it wasn’t for his huge ego. Sadly, he’s going to go down as one of the most important figures in the history of hip hop and a stark raving lunatic. We know about him interrupting Taylor Swift at MTV’s VMAs but did you also know that prior to his performance on Later… With Jools Holland, West demanded that they iron the carpet in his dressing room. Kanye, you’re great at what you do but at the end of the day you’re a rapper who samples other people’s songs. Back away from yourself and turn down the ego.
>>For more information about Florida Georgia Line in Phoenix CLICK HERE!!!
There are two schools of thought on Marilyn Manson. One, what you see is what you get. Two, Brian Hugh Warner is a marketing genius who caterers to those interested in the macabre. Regardless of which school you belong to, Manson has tried to purchase Nazi memorabilia, real-life stuffed animals, masks made out of human skin, and the skeleton of a young boy. He’s been sued by three former band members for back pay. So, he’s not only weird but a cheapskate too. You couldn’t have a beer with Manson if you wanted too. He drinks absinthe. Well, he has his own brand called Absinthe Mansinthe.
September 23, 2013
Jay-Z & His Number One Singles
Jay-Z holds the record for the most number one albums by a solo artist. Twelve times his studio efforts have peaked at the ultimate spot on the Billboard 200. That’s an amazing accomplishment especially when you consider that none of his twelve number ones are greatest hits collections. His 2004 EP, Collision Course (with Linkin Park), also summited at numero uno but that’s not included in the above count.
While his albums sell as well as Jay-Z tickets, his singles have not achieved the same type of relative success.
I say “relative” because he does hold the record for the most Top 40 hits by a rapper—his singles have cracked the aforementioned two score milestone twenty-six times. On twelve occasions a Jay-Z single entered the top ten but only once has a Jay-Z track reached the proverbial top of the mountain. He has however been credited as a featured artist on three singles that found their way to first place.
It should be noted that the highest charting single that’s only Jay-Z, and no other artist, is “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (2004). It peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. To recap, Jay-Z has 12 number albums and just one number one single (four if you expand the parameters to include singles he helped other artists cut). Below, Musicology-101 takes a brief look at all four Jay-Z number one singles.
“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
“Empire State of Mind” is Jay-Z’s only number one single as a lead artist. The song, which features Alicia Keys, is from Blueprint 3. It dropped in 2009 and went to number one in late November. The song features a sample of “Love on a Two Way Street” by The Moments. Jay-Z and Keys famously performed this ditty during the 2009 World Series (which featured the New York Yankees). “Empire State of Mind” won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Song.
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“Heartbreaker” by Mariah Carey Featuring Jay-Z
“Heartbreaker” was Mariah Carey’s first single to feature a hip hop artist. It was released on Sept. 21, 1999 and like much of her work it was greeted with lukewarm reviews from critics and brisk sales from fans. It reached the top spot on the Hot 100 on Oct. 9 and stay there until Oct. 22. The song features a sample from Stacy Lattisaw’s “Attack of the Name Game.” In the music video, Carey played two roles while Jay-Z played none. He was unable to appear due to contractual obligations.
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“Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z
Released in May of 2003, “Crazy In Love” is Beyoncé’s debut single. The famous horn part of the song is from The Chi-Lites’ 1970 offering “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So).” “Crazy In Love” reigned as Billboard’s number one song from July 12 to Sept. 5. Beyoncé would be back at the top spot come Oct. 4 thanks to the single “Baby Boy” featuring Sean Paul. “Crazy In Love” went on to win two Grammy Awards and its video won three MTV Video Music Awards.
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“Umbrella” by Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
Jay-Z makes a brief but memorable appearance on Rihanna’s 2007 jam, “Umbrella.” The single was both a commercial and critical success. It even wound up on Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. The track lives on Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad album and it hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 from June 9 to July 27. At the 2008 Grammy Awards, “Umbrella” vied unsuccessfully for Record of the Year and Song of the year. The single did quite well all over the world including the United Kingdom. Its success there was a bit ironic as it worked its way up the charts during heavy rains and flooding.
September 6, 2013
Lionel Richie Tour: Seven Reasons Why He’s A Legend
Lionel Richie is hitting the road this fall. His “All The Hits All Night Long” tour launches later this month; it’s his first trek of the U.S. in more than ten years. Richie’s much-anticipated outing got me thinking about both his career and legacy.
Richie’s main musical output is three albums he released in the mid-1980s. Of course, they were three of the best albums of the decade. He then took about ten years off from making records. When he returned, his momentum had vanished. It took until 2006 for Richie to have another successful album. Coming Home peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 and was eventually certified gold.
That may not sound like the career arch of an icon but it is in Richie’s case. Below, I give seven reasons why Lionel Richie deserves the label of “legend” and all the benefits that go along with it. After perusing my rundown I’m sure you’ll agree that Lionel Richie deserves a place among the all-time greats.
1. Lionel Richie Co-Wrote “Brick House”
The Commodores as a band wrote “Brick House” during a jam session. Trumpeter William King’s wife supplied the title. Drummer Walter Orange sang lead. Richie wasn’t instrumental in writing or recording the song but he had enough to do with it that it warrants making this list. After all, what song has gotten more chicks out on the dance floor than “Brick House?” When I was in college, this was every girl’s “theme song.”
2. Lionel Richie Knows How To Write and Sing A Great Ballad
Let’s see, there’s “Three Times A Lady” from his days with The Commodores. Then from his solo era there’s “Truly,” “Hello,” and the Academy Award winning “Say You, Say Me.” If you want a ballad look no further than Mr. Richie. He didn’t invent the form but he damn near perfected it.
3. Lionel Richie Is Great Live
Beginning Sept. 18 in Hollywood, Florida, Lionel Richie tickets will be collected all over the United States for exactly one month. Highlights of his route include concerts in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston. The best part about seeing Richie live is singing along to his great songs. When someone asks Richie what he’s going to sing tonight he replies “What are you going to sing tonight?”
4. Lionel Richie Is Global Treasure
Richie is not only big in America he’s big all over the world. Since 2004, he’s seen six of his singles crack the Top 40 in the U.K.; he hasn’t had a Top 40 hit in the U.S. since 1996. He’s appeared on both Australian and Canadian Idol and is extremely popular in the Arab world. When U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad, citizens were rocking out to “All Night Long.”
5. Lionel Richie Is Nicole Richie’s Father
For many, Nicole Richie symbolizes everything that’s wrong with this country. You know, being famous for no apparent reason. Say what you will about Nicole’s place in pop culture but Lionel and his wife raised her as one of their own and then legally adopted her when she was nine. She’s biological daughter of one of Lionel’s bandmates. Stepping up to be a parent has nothing to do with Richie’s musical prowess but I included it on this list because it reveals that he’s a man of character.
6. Lionel Richie’s First Three Albums
Richie left the Commodores in 1982 to begin a solo career. He released his self-titled debut later that year. It was followed by the classic Can’t Slow Down in 1983 and then Dancing on the Ceiling two years later. The last two works went straight to number one. The first and third have been certified quadruple Platinum. The middle album has been certified Diamond indicating ten million in sales. Can’t Slow Down contains the great tracks “All Night Long (All Night),” “Stuck on You,” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.”
7. Lionel Richie Is More Than Just An R&B Act
Throughout his career, Richie has borrowed elements from a variety of musical genres like funk, soul, pop, and rock. In 2012, he released his tenth studio album, Tuskegee. The album contains previously released Richie songs that he re-recorded with country music artists like Kenny Rogers, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, and Rascal Flatts. The hit record proves that Richie can make great music regardless of genre.
August 27, 2013
Dixie Chicks & Other Musicians Who’ve Made Controversial Statements
Together Natalie Maines, Emily Robinson, and Martie Maguire have won more than a dozen Grammy Awards, sold more than 30 million albums, and collected thousands of Dixie Chicks tickets all over the world. This autumn, the Dixie Chicks reunite for a nine-concert trek of Canada. Billed as the “Long Time Gone Tour 2013,” The Dixie Chicks open their outing in Vancouver, B.C. on Oct. 26 and close it Nov. 10 when the Dixie Chicks perform in London, Ontario.
Also, look for the Dixie Chicks in Calgary, Alberta on Halloween night. The following day the Dixie Chicks are in Edmonton for a concert at Rexall Place. The other stops on their schedule are Dawson Creek (Oct. 29), Saskatoon (Nov. 3), Winnipeg (Nov. 5), Oshawa (Nov. 8), and Hamilton (Nov. 9).
Although it happened ten years ago, the Dixie Chicks are still hounded by comments Maines made during a performance in London, England. While on foreign soil she spoke against the Iraqi war and disparaged the President of the United States. Her comments sparked quite a backlash from the country music community. If you think it’s time to move on from Maine’s remarks just remember that the second paragraph of the group’s Wikipedia entry is dedicated to the incident.
Dixie Chicks are far from the only group inexorably linked to controversial statements. Below, Musicology-101 looks at other bands/musical artists who have made provocative or scandalous utterances. As you will soon learn, some have been able to cure themselves of “foot-in-mouth” disease, while others have not.
John Lennon – “More Popular Than Jesus”
In March of 1966, John Lennon of The Beatles said “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus.” The remark, part of an interview, was printed in a London paper and attracted no public reaction. Then in August of 1966 it was printed in the United States and all hell broke loose. Of course, Lennon wasn’t disparaging Jesus or Christianity. He was criticizing baby boomers who seemed to care more about what The Beatles and other rock stars had to sing than the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Elvis Costello – “Jive-Ass N****”
In the spring of 1979, Elvis Costello called James Brown a “jive-ass n*****” and Ray Charles a “blind, ignorant n*****.” He made those comments in Columbus, Ohio at a Holiday Inn Bar while arguing with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett. When Costello apologized he said he was drunk and trying to be purposefully obnoxious. He also said that he did not think Bramlett would leak the conversation to the press. Since that time, Costello has worked hard to repair his image. Meanwhile, Ray Charles forgave him for his remarks believing drunken banter shouldn’t leave the confines of the bar.
Kanye West – "I’mma Let You Finish"
I still think this was a staged event. How can a performer, even one of Kanye West’s ilk, just waltz onto a stage? At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video so he could sing the praises of Beyoncé. Whether the event was real or not, West lambasted by just about everyone. He was even derided by two U.S. Presidents (Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter). West issued a sincere apology the next night on The Jay Leno Show. Even so, his outburst had legs and for the next year comedy shows spoofed him and the incident.
Hank Williams, Jr. – “…Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu“
On Oct. 3, 2011, Hank Williams, Jr. appeared on the Fox News Channel and harangued President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for playing golf with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner. He said it was like “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.” The statement is both historically inaccurate (Hitler died before Netanyahu was born) and lazy. Comparing politicians to Hitler is a telltale sign that the orator has nary an iota of wit. Williams apologized for the particulars of his comments but not for their gist. It didn’t matter. His energetic opening for Monday Night Football was permanently benched and the mainstream media ate him alive.
John Mayer – “I’ve Got A David Duke C**K”
In 2010, John Mayer was interviewed by Playboy magazine. It turned out to be a colossally bad idea. Mayer dropped several “N” bombs and compared his genitals to a white supremacist in general and then to an actual white supremacist, David Duke. Basically, the interviewed just confirmed what everyone at the time was thinking: John Mayer is a douchebag. Mayer apologized for using the “N” word on his Twitter account. He then made a verbal apology at a concert in Nashville to both his band and his fans. I think Mayer has matured since then (that’s code for he sobered up) but the interview is still a huge embarrassment.
August 13, 2013
Kid Cudi Tour & Other ‘Kids’ In Popular Music
Kid Cudi begins his 2013 North American tour on Sept. 5 in Tucson, Arizona. The Man on the Moon rapper has concerts planned for all over the continent. For example, Chicago welcomes Kid Cudi to the UIC Pavilion on Sept. 20; Philadelphia will host a Kid Cudi show at Penn’s Landing on Sept. 27; and Boston collects Kid Cudi tickets at the Bank of America Pavilion on Sept. 28. Other stops on his trek include Vancouver, Seattle, Denver, Toronto, Atlanta, and Houston. “The Cud Life Tour 2013” ends Oct. 17 in Laredo, Texas.
Cudi is supporting his latest studio album, Indicud, which dropped in April. Also on the marquee are Logic, Big Sean, and Tyler, The Creator.
The pending Kid Cudi tour got me thinking about all the other “Kids” in popular music. After all, “kid” is a favored nickname in showbiz. It’s right up there with “big,” “lil” and “doctor.” All throughout popular music’s history performers have used “Kid” as part of their nom de plume and songwriters have drawn inspiration from characters named “Kid.” Below is a brief but interesting history of “kid” in popular music.
Radiohead released Kid A in 2000. Their fourth studio album and their first to debut on top of the charts in the United States, Kid A was a commercial and critical success. Yes, Thom Yorke and the band’s new direction pissed off longtime fans but anyone who loves Radiohead is extremely temperamental in the first place. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and picked up a nomination for Album of the Year.
“Kid Charlemagne” is a 1976 Steely Dan single about hippie chemist Owsley Stanley. He was the first private citizen to create large quantities of LSD. The amazing guitar solo was performed by the great Larry Carlton and is widely recognized as one of the best of all-time. You’ll find the song on Dan’s 1976 album, The Royal Scam.
Kid Creole and The Coconuts
If you have the opportunity to see them in concert or buy some of their music you should take it. Kid Creole and the Coconuts are a fun and exciting group of musicians. Led by singer August Darnell, the group mixes pop, funk and Caribbean styles with a big band sound. Most Americans would know them from their single "Endicott."
Kid ‘n Play
Everyone in the early 1990s loved them some Kid n’ Play. Even if you weren’t into rap you watched their movies. There was House Party, House Party 2, and House Party 3. I’ll just come out and say it. The House Party trilogy is one of the greatest trilogies of the 1990s. The duo released three albums, none of which cracked the top 40. They were more famous for Kid’s foot-high hair than for their music.
Long before Kid Cudi tickets were even a glimmer in a promoter’s eye, Kid Rock was dropping “Bawitdabas” all over the country. Fusing rap with southern rock—although now he’s mainly a straight forward country rock and blues singer—Kid Rock became one of the bestselling solo artists of the 2000s. An annual fixture on the concert circuit, Kid Rock just finished his “$20 Best Night Ever Tour” with ZZ Top, Uncle Kracker, and Kool and The Gang.
“Kids” is a catchy an d breezy song by hipsters MGMT. Taken from their studio album, Oracular Spectacular, “Kids” dropped in October of 2005 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. The song gained headlines when the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, offered the one-album wonders a pittance after he used their song at a political event. That offense seems rather tame when compared to the song’s music video where a toddler was purposely terrified and forced to cry.
“The Ballad of Billy The Kid”
You’ll find “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” on Billy Joel’s 1974 album Piano Man. Inspired in part by Aaron Copland (who himself composed a piece of music called “Billy the Kid”), Joel’s version begins as a fictionalized account of the famous frontier outlaw Billy the Kid and then morphs into a song about a bartender he knew named “Billy.” Contrary to what most people believe, the song is not autobiographical.