We’re not the coal-in-your-stockings types here at Music Seen. It’s been a long year for most of us and you deserve the best in your Christmas stockings, sonic gifts of music – we bring you classic Yuletide standards like ‘The Christmas Waltz’ sung by Peggy Lee, and modern finds by artists like JD McPherson, LYRA and John Legend. Who needs mince pies and turkey when you’ve got an earful of XMAS music?! So season's greetings, and enjoy the feast.
Christmas isn’t the only cause for celebration – we’re also celebrating the culmination of the Music Seen project. For a year now Playlister FM have been carefully selecting and showcasing music from the immense Concord Music Publishing catalogue. It’s been quite a ride and from all of us at Playlister, a huge thank you to all the contributors, artists and behind the scenes elves who have made the project such a pleasure to work on.
“All over the world it's the same / Christmas time is here again” – female R&B group The Flirtations speak for almost all of us when they sing with excitement about the holiday season. ‘Christmas Time Is Here Again’ was written by Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington, and was first released as a single in 1968. The track blends conventional R&B band instrumentation with Christmas slay bells and choral harmonies. The lyrics are charged with festive excitement – snowflakes, presents, carol singing and snowmen – making it the perfect track to play this Christmas!
American singer-songwriter JD McPherson is into rockabilly, punk and Wu-Tang Clan – he’s also into Christmas, and that’s cool too. ‘All The Gifts I Need’ comes from McPherson’s fourth studio album, ‘Socks’ 2018, which is all about Christmas and the holiday season. In the words of music critic Matt Collar in his AllMusic review, McPherson’s album is “a jubilantly rockin' production, rife with humor and the Oklahoma-born singer's knack for old-school '50s R&B”. The album cover is a cartoon of a grumpy leather-jacket-wearing boy who’s just received socks for Christmas.
American jazz-pop singer Peggy Lee’s renditions of ‘Fever’ and ‘Till There Was You’ are iconic, and she does no wrong when covering the celebrated Yuletide standard ‘The Christmas Waltz’. The song was released in 1960 on her studio album ‘Christmas Carousel’, and was originally written for Frank Sinatra by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. The lyrics sparkle with Christmas imagery – “Frosted window panes / Candles gleaming inside / Painted candy canes / On the tree” – and Peggy delivers them with her characteristically soothing and whispery style of singing.
Louis has a song for every occasion, and Christmas Day is no exception. ‘The Home Fire’ comes from his third last album, ‘What a Wonderful World’ 1968, which was produced by Bob Thiele and features Louis’ raspy vocals more prominently than his trumpet playing. The song is rich with cosy feelings of familial love and nostalgia – “All the folks that I love are there / I got a date with my favorite chair / With every step every hope grows higher / Didn’t know how much I missed the home fire”.
“Cozy up right by the fireplace and watch our favorite movies play / Cooking up a feast for kings and queens / Our castle is our sacred place” – John Legend cooks up an original neo-soul Christmas song on his sixth studio album, ‘A Legendary Christmas’ 2018. The pun (‘Legendary’) is top-notch, and so is ‘No Place Like Home’, which features backing vocals by Irish singer-songwriter RuthAnne. The album was directed by celebrated R&B producer Raphael Saadiq, and pop-icon Stevie Wonder sings and plays harmonica on the opening track.
‘Ring Bell, Ring Bell’ comes from Miriam Makeba’s tenth studio album ‘Pata Pata’ 1967, which peaked at #74 on the US albums chart. The album consists of Afropop and Marabi-inspired songs that are interspersed with jazzier, English-language tunes like ‘Ring Bell, Ring Bell’. Jingling sleigh bells drive the song, and Makeba sings about love, peace and rhythm – “So ring bell, ring bell / Tell the world that all is well / Ring bell, ring bell / Love is here and all is well”.
Stoke the fire, pull on a second pullover and boil the kettle because winter’s coming in cold up here in the Northern Hemisphere! This week’s collection of songs were carefully selected from Concord Music Publishing to evoke the winter season – icy tranquility, the warmth of home, being close to loved ones, the beauty of the winter landscape, the peace of playing a record when it’s cold outside…
‘A Winter Romance’ was released on a winter-themed album of the same name. It was recorded in 1959, composed by American song-writers Sammy Cahn and Ken Lane, and released with Capitol Records. Dean Martin performs the song with his signature crooning baritone, and the choir and strings sound whimsical and nostalgic. “We danced that night by candle light / The world was white with snow / The way we felt we never felt / The snow could melt and go.”
“Ooh, this winter I'll win your heart / I knew it right from the start” – Phillip LaRue is confident that he’ll win his beloved’s heart this winter. He’s hoping the cold weather will lead her right into his warm arms – “Outside it's getting colder / Another reason now to hold ya”. ‘Fireside’ is off LaRue’s 2020 EP of the same name, and is a slow and saucy guitar-pop song about infatuation during the winter season.
‘Manchester Snow’ is about love and lust during the wintertime in Manchester UK. The song is off English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s EP ‘In the Open’, which was released by Dirty Hit records in 2012. Acoustic guitar and Leftwich’s breathy vocals sit at the front of the song, while icy electric guitars and strings crescendo in the background.
The opening track on British art rock band Django Django’s EP ‘Winter’s Beach’, 2018. The song is entirely instrumental – pulsing synths play a single chord throughout, and an icy saxophone solo evokes gusts of wind, lapping waves and bird flight. Frontman David Maclean says in Dork Magazine: “This came from some music I made for the artist George Henry Longly… It was in a show in New York a few years ago and I took some of the synth parts and worked with James Mainwaring from roller trio who played sax over it”.
American singer Tommy Roe combines 60s bubblegum pop and psychedelic sound-effects to create ‘It’s Now Winter’s Day’, the final song on his 1967 album of the same name. The result is something like the early experimental music of Scott Walker. Roe sings a radio-friendly melody with strings and choir harmonising behind him – “Outside it's chilling but inside it's thrilling / With fireplaces burning and records that keep turning”. Frosty chimes crescendo at the song’s end, and everything is covered in glacial dissonance.
There’s something special about being warm while it’s cold outside. Joan Armatrading’s song ‘Warm Love’ is all about the heat of being with another person – “Warm love, warm love / I'll give you / Kisses in the morning / Your starter / For the night”. The song was released on Armatrading’s fourth studio album, ‘Show Some Emotion’ 1977, and features a lush string part composed by Brian Rogers.
Modern music is not slowing down, and this week’s collection of new releases is testament to that! Thankfully we’ve gathered some of the most exciting new tracks in one place for you so that you can get a taste for what’s on the horizon – Joan as Policewoman making dubby Afro-jazz with the legendary Tony Allen, Dave Okumu’s avant garde hip-hop beats, James Blake and SZA teaming up to produce futuristic pop bangerz, Falle Nioke rapping in Coniagui over Ghost Culture’s sample-based beats. We can hardly keep up!! They are not stopping to wait for us!!
‘Out in LA’ is about discontent in the sun. It’s a favourite theme of musicians – Lou Reed asking “who loves the sun?”, Frank Ocean singing about “domesticated paradise” on ‘channel ORANGE’. In fact ‘Out in LA’ – the first single off Aquilo’s latest album ‘A Safe Place To Be’ 2021 – has a ‘channel ORANGE’-esque sound to it. The track features poppy R&B keys, laidback hip-hoppy drums, cinematic strings and lush vocal harmonies. “We wrote this song after a writing trip in LA”, reflects Acquilo in TotalNntertainment. “Unfortunately, it was less fruitful than desired and we left with literally nothing to show… A week or so after we got home to the UK, we wrote this song”.
‘Coming Back’ is the product of a spontaneous collaboration between James Blake and SZA. Blake caught wind that SZA was coming by the studio and asked her to sing over some ideas he’d been working on. “We hit it off straight away”, says Blake on Apple Music. The track is poppier than the rest of the album, ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’ 2021. “I just had to make it more banger-y. I tried doing the ambient thing, I tried making it really beautiful, and it didn’t work”. The result is a truly modern-sounding pop banger!
American producer Matthew E. White’s new release ‘Let’s Ball’ is pure 70s disco indulgence. The results are brilliant – intensely danceable, lighthearted and fun. The song is off ‘K Bay’ – released in September of this year – which is White’s first solo album to be released in six years. ‘Let’s Ball’ is heavily syncopated (much cowbell), the synth-bass is funky and the production is pristine. The hook goes like this – “Burnin’ up / Burnin’ up the dancefloor last time, baby / We learned enough to not fight these signs / So we’re turning up the dancehall tonight / … Turn it up and let's ball”.
‘Get My Bearings’ was born out of a cover that Joan Wasser and Tony Allen played of a Nina Simone song. In Joan’s words, “Damon Albarn introduced me to Afrobeat legend, Tony Allen, at the Africa Express event ‘The Circus’ in London in 2019. Tony and I played Nina Simone's ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’ and made a pact to record together in the future”. Their pact was soon realised when they collaborated with Dave Okumu in a Parisian studio to create the album ‘The Solution Is Restless’ 2021. It’s jazzy and dubby, and driven along by Allen’s trippy and unmistakable afrobeat drumming – R.I.P.
The second single off English producer Dave Okumu’s debut solo album ‘Knopperz’ 2021. Okumu has worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Arlo Parks, Tony Allen and Grace Jones. Okumu explains in Line of Best Fit that “‘New Dawn” was inspired by Duval Timothy's piece entitled ‘Language’. Like much of Duval's wonderful music, it has a deeply reflective, meditative quality… I felt ready for a new beginning. A new dawn”. Okumu’s song is ordered chaos – piano, strings, bass, guitar and synths move in and out of focus, panning from left to right, from consonance to dissonance, held together by a grooving boom-bap beat – something like an avante-garde hip-hop instrumental!
Falle Nioke and Ghost Culture join to create ‘Badiare EP’, released through PRAH Recordings on November fifth of this year. James Greenwood – AKA Ghost Culture – provides the beats, while Nioke provides rap-style spoken vocals. The lead single of the EP is ‘Leywole’, which means “whatever” in Coniagui, a dialect of Guinea in West Africa where Nioke hails from. He reflects in Beats Per Minute, “I was inspired just by watching men and women in the street, in particular an interaction between a strong woman rejecting the approach from a bold man. ‘How can this man have the audacity to talk to me?!’ she says and asks him questions like ‘and you are the son of who?!'”
The smell of pine cones? What ma’ and pa’ once said? The misty vale? Your childhood home? – it’s hard to put your finger on what exactly defines folk music. This week’s collection of songs is an expression of that – it veers into country, blues, alternative rock and pop. After following these twists and turns we get a sense of the common elements – an acoustic guitar, a simple and steady rhythm, and a voice that isn’t afraid to honestly and melodically express itself.
To start off this week’s collection of folk songs we have ‘Songs of Old’ by American singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop. The track is from her fourth solo album ‘Memories Are Now’ 2017, which was produced by Blake Mills and features Fiona Apple on harmonica. Hoop’s vocals drive the song and her melodies move freely and unpredictably. Her lyrics are poetic and about typical folk themes – memory, time, family and change: “Mama’s singing the songs of old / Singing the rock of ages / Though the gold is marred by red / Singing the rock of ages / Melt it down and make new things / Singing the rock of ages”.
From British singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh’s second single, ‘Bottled up Tight’ 2014. The song was later released on his debut album ‘The Fire Inside’, the title of which references the lyrics in the chorus of ‘Bottled up Tight’ – “I feel a fire / I see a flame, set me alight / Bring me desire, bottled up tight”. Luke’s vocals are melodic and introspective. He describes himself in an interview with Druken werewolf music blog as a “melancholy chap… Music is a cure for my negativity sometimes. It helps me to think”.
The first single on ‘Flaws’ 2010, the second studio album by English indie folk band Bombay Bicycle Club. The lyrics are nostalgic and homey, filled with images of “sunlight”, “clothes made of ivy and gold”, and introspective musings. Tessa Harris from NME commented that the album is “stuffed full of subtle invention and an emotional intensity that you really wouldn't expect from a band still too young to grow a beard between them”.
Ben Cooper – AKA Radical Face – angsts about uncertainty and change in ‘We’re on Our Way’. The track was released on ‘The Bastards’ 2015, an EP of songs that didn’t suit the theme of Cooper’s ‘Family Tree’ trilogy of albums. The track is composed of intricately layered acoustic guitars and off-beat folk-style percussion, with harmonies provided by the piano and strings. The lyrics are pensive and emotionally-charged, and contain kernels of wisdom about the permanence of impermanence – “But don't you fret, and don't you mind / The only constant is change / And you never know what you'll find”.
“Life is beautiful, life is wondrous / Every star above is shining just for us”, sings Keb’ Mo’ in the chorus of ‘Life Is Beautiful’. The song was released on his ninth studio album ‘Suitcase’ 2006, and is charged with positive feelings about life, love and traversing the hills and valleys of “this crazy world”. The album was produced by John Porter, who’s worked with music giants Bob Dylan, B.B. King and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. The song is a unique blend of Delta blues, country instrumentation and folk-style singing.
“Leave all your possessions / Leave behind your clothes / Lose your inhibitions / You can’t wear them where we’ll go” – the opening lyrics of Raye Zaragoza’s ‘Into The Wild’ read like something out of Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. The song was released as a single in 2020, and is inspired by classic folk themes about escaping and living simply and freely in the moment. It was released alongside Zaragoza’s sophomore album ‘Woman in Colour’, a meditation on her Japanese-American, Mexican and Indigenous roots.
If you’re ‘in the red’ you’ve made a loss. If you’re ‘in the black’ you’ve profited. Shopkeepers are all ‘in the black’ after last Friday, and we’re all ‘in the red’ after getting carried away by the amazing deals that were on offer at stores near you, not to mention online… Make this week’s playlist the anthem to your Black Friday shopping spree! From deep house (Disclosure) to pub rock (Dr Feelgood), these tracks will get you pumped up, hungry and ready to shop!
Black Friday is upon us, and ‘Friday’ – by Riton, Nightcrawlers, Mufasa & Hypeman, and Dopamine – is the perfect new track to get you hyped about finding a great deal on those flashy new sneakers you’d always wanted! The song is a lighthearted celebration of the weekend, of Friday as the day that initiates a “wave” of weekend pleasures – “It's Friday again / It's Saturday, Sunday, what?” Let this be the anthem to your shopping spree.
Don’t kid yourself, there’s an enough-is-never-enough mindset motivating our Black Friday splurges. English garage-house duo Disclosure’s recent track ‘Never Enough’ is the final of four singles released in one week as part of their ‘Never Enough’ EP. The project was inspired by the idea of creating the perfect post-lockdown dance music. In the words of Guy and Howard Lawrence, “we asked each other… what would we want to hear in those moments? What does that first moment back in a club sound like? What does a headline show at Reading look like after all the difficulties 2020 brought on our whole industry?”
Electronic music group Club Yoko’s 2019 single ‘I Want It All’ parodies the extremes of consumeristic shopping fever. The spoken-word lyrics in the verses are all about glamour and excess – “Everyone will know my face cause they’ll see it on the dollar bill / If it’s rare and beautiful I’ll take it like a pill”. They really do want it all! – a mansion in the Hamptons, a golden tumba, and a pet monkey… “And baby when that big beat drops I sure hope that it’s funky”.
“The 90’s all about making that cream / you know what I mean?” – From American hip-hop group Chill Deal Boyz’ album ‘Hip Hop Ain't Nothing but a Party’ 1991, released on Pump Records California. The beat is heavy, the bass is funky, and the chorus is a call-and-response between the featured MC and a crowd of chanting women: “Say make money money, make money money money! Make make money money, make money money money!”
The artwork for this one was designed by John Pasche, who famously designed the iconic Rolling Stones Hot Lips logo. His design for English pub-rock band Dr Feelgood’s 1979 single ‘As Long as the Price is Right’ is even bolder. It’s a close-up print of a wad of cash tucked under a woman’s bra. “If you got no bread you’re as good as dead” go the lyrics in the chorus. The voice is deadpan, the bass guitar drones along and the lead guitarist plays tough and simple before ripping into an extended solo at the end of the song.
“Gotta make a million dollars” whispers the singer in the opening no less than 24 times! ‘Million Dollar Man’ is the first song on ‘Afternoon with Caroline’ 2018, the fourth EP by NY indie rock band The Dig. The drums are upbeat and motorik-y, and 80s-style synths shimmer in the choruses. The song feels like racing through the desert at night with a burning desire for $$$. “It’s a juvenile and naive fantasy that we all had as young’ins”, says keyboardist Erick Eiser in Paste Magazine. “I think the song could be a representation of some of our more endearing adolescent dreams as individuals growing up, but also as a band”.
Thanksgiving was originally about giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. Today it’s all about gratitude in general… and delicious food ;). This week’s collection of songs celebrate giving thanks – for loved ones, family occasions, your childhood, spiritual guardians and the generosity of others. We thank this week’s artists for their excellent songs, which range from hip-hop to jazz, R&B to rock.
From American rapper Cordae’s Grammy-nominated debut album ‘The Lost Boy’ 2019. The song is laced with nostalgic sentiments about Thanksgiving family meals – “Mac 'n' cheese up in the oven, grandma finished cookin' / Thanksgiving 'round the corner need banana puddin'”. The lyrics centre on Cordae’s decision to introduce his girlfriend to his extended family during Thanksgiving against his mother’s wishes.
Louis & His Orchestra recorded ‘Thankful’ in New York City, 1936. The song was written by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin, and is the second song Louis ever recorded with the word “thanks” in the title – the other being ‘Thanks a Million’. Louis opens with his unforgettable gravelly crooning. He expresses his thanks for his “Darling” – her love and “every kiss” – before launching into a 90 second trumpet solo, band chugging beneath him with a classic two-beat swing rhythm.
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, and ‘The Air That I Breathe’ gives thanks to an unnamed woman who provided shelter and care for singer Albert Hammond while he was down-and-out in Los Angeles. “I had no money”, recalls Hammond in a 2011 interview with BBC radio. “I had no Green Card, I couldn't work, I could have been… homeless”. The lyrics are endearingly sappy and hyperbolic, and rumour has it Eric Clapton once commented that the opening guitar note has more soul than any other song he’d ever heard.
‘Gratitude’ is inspired by an old church beneath the window of Mr Jukes’ bedroom, and the religious sentiments of Pastor T.L. Barrett’s ‘Medley’, a 70s gospel song that’s sampled in the chorus. Mr Jukes – i.e. Jack Steadman – reflects on the recording of the song: “Barney was looking for the right words and I suggested he take a walk around the churchyard. He came back with the whole second verse”. Barney raps about “joy”, “hope”, “love” and celebration, making ‘Gratitude’ the perfect track for your Thanksgiving playlist.
The chorus of Judith Hill’s 2020 single ‘Thank You’ maintains this week’s theme of giving thanks – “I will stand upon your shoulders and I’ll feel a little stronger / You gave me a little hope and I say thank you”. Hill has collaborated as a backing vocalist with some of the biggest names in pop music – Michael Jackson, Prince, George Benson and Elton John. ‘Thank You’ is a soulful reflection on the importance of cooperation, hope and being appreciative.
Vocalist Pete Philly and composer Perquisite team up to produce ‘Grateful’, the tenth track off their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Mindstate’ 2005. The song is a poignant expression of Philly’s gratitude towards all those who have helped him become who he is – “Dear family and friends / I need to thank you / In this note that I'm sending you / I need to show my gratitude / I'm truly indebted to you / Thank you for pulling me through”. Perquisite’s instrumental is heavily jazz influenced, and rapper Talib Kweli – who features on the album – said that it was “musically light years ahead of the game”.
Cocktails and music go together like vodka and vermouth, tequila and lime, gin and lemon, whiskey and sugar syrup. Whatever your drink is, we've got a song for you with this week’s collection of tracks –jazz flavours, soul, classical and blues. So fix yourself a drink, sit back and enjoy the music…
Aside from being great artists, what do Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and Erik Satie have in common? A: fondness for the cocktail absinthe, which is now banned due to its toxicity. Russian-Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin wrote ‘Absynthe Cocktail’ 2017 in an effort to evoke the mood of drinking absinthe in the 19th-century – “Never having had one myself, I wrote this piece as something that could complement such an experience and try to capture the particular élan of those times. I thought that such a dangerous and irregular beverage needed an irregular melody, so I wrote one that spreads over more than two octaves”.
What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone? California-born songwriter Marcus King reflects on the conversation that inspired her song ‘Wildflowers & Wine’. “We were talking about this particular trip that I took to visit my girlfriend in Virginia. I picked some wildflowers on the way up there and I got a bottle of wine. It was the first time I drove that far to see someone that I cared so much about. It was just a special trip”. The song was co-written by Ronnie Bowman, and released on King’s fourth studio album, ‘El Dorado’ 2020.
Basin Street East was a NYC nightclub that hosted some of the biggest jazz artists of the 1960s – Dave Brubeck, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones and Billy Eckstine, to name a few. ‘And Now’ is from Della Reese’s album ‘Della at Basin Street East’, which was released and recorded live in 1964. The song was conducted by John Cotter, and features a jazzy saloon-style piano, stripped-back drums and Reese’s powerful vocals. Shut your eyes and imagine the stage, lights, club-goers and cocktails…
Barney Kessel was an Oklahoma-born composer and member of ‘The Wrecking Crew’, a collection of LA-based session musicians who recorded with some of the biggest artists of the 60s and 70s – The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, Frank Sinatra, and Simon & Garfunkel. ‘Happy Feeling’ is an instrumental jazz song that was released on one of Kessel’s solo albums, and features his signature jazz-guitar playing style. He recorded the song with band members Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Bill Perkins, Al Hendrickson, Red Mitchell, Jimmy Rowles and Shelly Manne.
‘Mandolins In The Moonlight’ was composed by American song-writers George David Weiss and Aaron Schroeder, and was famously performed by Italian-American singer Perry Como. Como recorded the song in 1958, releasing it as a single that reached #47 on the American Billboard chart. “We're not in Venice / In a gondola / Beneath the skies of blue / And yet it seems we're there signorina / An' I'm close to you!” Another negroni for signorina!
The debut single of American prog-rock band Starbuck, released in 1975 with Private Stock records. The song was written by keyboardist and singer Bruce Blackman, and features a lengthy marimba solo performed by Bo Wagner. In fact ‘Moonlight Feels Right’ was promoted on an American Top 40 radio show as the first rock song to ever use a marimba! The song sounds like cocktails and starlight – “We'll lay back and observe the constellations / And watch the moon smilin' bright”.
Love is the drug, whether you’re starry-eyed in Ancient Greece or the 21st Century. It’s launched 1000 ships, made millions of hearts sing, and been the inspiration for some our favourite songs - both old and new. Listen up this week as we play our favourite modern love songs.
Aaron Taylor knows as well as anyone that nothing says romance like flowers – “And if I bring you flowers / I'll just bring you flowers / To make you smile again”. ‘Flowers - (Gold Edit)’ is a recent edit of a track released on Taylor’s lockdown album ‘ICARUS’ 2020.British rapper Che Lingo features in a verse on the edit. Taylor reflects that the song is about “naively trying to patch up a relationship with a trivial gesture, and it’s an honour to have Che Lingo expand on the theme with a guest verse”.
For all the non-French speakers out there, ‘Je Quitte’ means “I’m leaving”. The song is by Canadian alternative-pop artist Charlotte Cardin, and is the final track on her first studio album ‘Phoenix’ 2021. ‘Je Quitte’ was produced by Marc-André Gilbert, Jason Brando and Mr. Hudson, and is about needing a break from a romantic relationship, about needing to step outside and clear your head – “I’m leaving, but I’m not leaving you / Yes, I quit, but I’m not leaving you”.
‘Maybe Could Have Loved’ is about a romantic relationship that was never fully realised. Nashville indie-pop artist Charli Adams wrote the song with her housemate Nightly, whose backing-vocals feature on the track. Adams says in The Line of Best Fit magazine that“ I think we’re both… hopeless romantics and I knew I wanted him [Nightly] to sing on this one”. The song comes from Adams’ debut album ‘Bullseye’, 2021.
Vlad Holiday’s 2021 single ‘Skinny Dipping’ is about being infatuated with a “Skinny dipping hipster girl”. The track is drenched in reverb – lazy vocals, surf-rock guitars and echoey drums swell like waves. It’s beachy and heated, perfect for a pool party or hot summer’s night – “Now we’re kissing / Skinny dipping / With my girl / My hipster girl”.
Another heated track today from a collaboration between American R&B group Emotional Oranges and Irish singer Biig Piig. ‘Body & Soul’ comes from Emotional Oranges’ latest album ‘The Juicebox’ 2021, and is about lighthearted loving on a cold night in Los Angeles –“Take you back to my place / Love you by the fireplace / Girl, what you want from me? / Your body and soul”. The song was created after Emotional Oranges dm’d Jessica Smyth (Biig Piig), inviting her to join them in a studio in LA for a couple days.
Love songs can be happy, sad and everything in between. California-born musician Kadhja Bonet’s love song ‘For You’ is resolutely optimistic – “I'll satisfy you / I'll be there for you / I'll make your drеams true”. The track was released this year with Ninja Tune records, and Bonet’s lyrics are all about devotion, dreams and hope. The instruments are downtempo and synthy, contributing to the song’s overall hypnotic and psychedelic mood.
Prepare all ye who trespass here to fire up your jack-o-lantern, don your scariest dress-ups (Squid Game anyone?) and egg your neighbours' house as we present tricks and treats from the Concord Music Publishing vaults to celebrate Halloween!
Gil Scott Heron once described himself as a “bluesologist”, as a “scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”. In ‘Me and the Devil’ he pairs up with Richard Russell head honcho at XL Recordings to appropriate the blues classic ‘Me and the Devil Blues’ 1937 by Robert Johnson. Legend has it Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to gain mastery of his instrument! Scott-Heron combines Johnson’s haunting lyrics with his own poetry about vultures, death, the ghetto and despair: “So if you see the vulture coming / Flying circles in your mind / Remember there is no escaping / For he will follow close behind”. Spooky!
This soundtrack comes from the Belgian erotic horror movie ‘Daughters of Darkness’ 1971, directed by Harry Kümel. Cultural critic Camille Paglia describes the movie as a “classy genre of vampire film”. The score is by the award winning French composer François de Roubaix, whose work would go on to be sampled by hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne in his track ‘President Carter’ 2011.
“Am I evil? Yes I am / Am I evil? I am man, yes I am” – the lyrics to ‘Am I Evil?’ are about a man who seeks revenge after his mother is “burned alive” for being a witch. Guitarist Brian Tatler reflects that the song was inspired by the desire “to write a song heavier than Black Sabbath’s Symptom Of The Universe”. ‘Am I Evil?’ was released on Diamond Head's debut album ‘Lightning to the Nations’ 1980, and was later popularised by Metallica who covered it on a single released in 1984. It was included in the soundtrack of Rob Zombie's American slasher film Halloween II, 2009.
Dr.Octagon’s rap on ‘Buried Alive’ is all smoke, vampires, zombies, hypnosis and eyeballs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O reflects in an interview with NME that “I think we really wanted to have as much fun as we could with the writing and collaborating with peopleand push ourselves to do things we hadn't done before”. Dr. Octagon – one of (Kool) Keith Matthew’s rap personas – adds a strong dose of Halloween horror to the track, which was co-produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy!
This track was inspired by British two-tone band The Specials’ awesome 1981 song of the same name. Greentea Peng protests that London is becoming a ‘Ghost Town’, that gentrification, corruption and violence are killing her city. “But you can’t take my city fromme”, she sings in the chorus. Greentea reflects in an open letter that “This song is an expression of a feeling of discontent towards the powers that be, it’s a microcosm for what is happening all over the world. The priority of money and wealth over the people,and the repercussions of that.”
“I was a teenage werewolf / Braces on my fangs” – the lyrics parody the 1957 horror film of the same name: ‘I Was A Teenage Werewolf’. The Cramps were often inspired by the grotesque imagery of low-budget horror and sci-fi films, combining gothic lyrical contentwith punk instrumentation – fuzzed-up guitars, primitive drums and demented vocals. The song comes from their first studio album, ‘Songs the Lord Taught Us’ 1980, which found more success in the UK despite the band’s American origins.
If you've never used TikTok, you're over 25 or living in a cave. It has to date achieved 2 billion mobile downloads worldwide and 1 billion people use the app each month! Music plays an essential part in many of the films uploaded and shared, and the app has become a new barometer of success for tracks and artists new and old. We've chosen 7 tracks from the Concord Music Publishing catalogue that have had some serious usage.... Bored in the House by Tyga and Curtis Roach for instance is the soundtrack for 147,000+ short films on the app!
“Sittin' on the couch and I'm going through my Netflix / Bored than a motherf*cker, I ain't even doin' sh*t”. Sound familiar? Detroit rapper Curtis Roach gives expression to a collective sense of lockdown-induced cabin fever. The song uses the word “bored” no less than 199 times in three minutes, and narrates a day in Roach’s life. It’s all PlayStation, ramen, cartoons and dreaming about going on tour…
TikTok and dance are almost synonymous. We’re not surprised everybody’s dancing to ‘D.A.N.C.E’, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2008for Best Dance/Electronic Recording. The track is dedicated to Michael Jackson, melodically inspired by Britney Spears’ song ‘Me Against the Music’, and was put to an award winning Pop Art-inspired music video that rivals today’s TikTok bops.
From ‘Watch the Throne’, a collaborative album recorded in 2010 by rap kings Jay-Z and Kayne West. The track is about Jay-Z’s personal gripes with the record industry and past collaborators. He imagines himself as guardian to the “throne” as Rome burns around him. Assassins linger and he sleeps with “a pistol under my pillow”. It’s dramatic, aggrandising, and features an infectious pop chorus sung by Mr. Hudson.
‘Let's Get Together (So Groovy Now)’ was written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Krush – or Krush Perspective – an American R&B girl group made up of Ashley Jackson, Angie Smith and Christy Williams. The track was the only single ever released by the trio, and it lasted on the UK singles chart for two weeks in 1993. The track is best known for being used in the American crime-comedy B-movie ‘Mo' Money’ 1992, which was directed by Peter Macdonald and written by Damon Wayans who also starred in the film.
“Live fast, die young / Bad girls do it well”, raps M.I.A in the hook of ‘Bad Girls’ which comes from her fourth studio album, ‘Matangi’ 2013. The song features Middle-Eastern and Indian instruments that play over heavy syncopated hip-hop drums. The lyrics celebrate female liberation and sexual empowerment, sentiments that were captured by the accompanying music video – directed by Romain Gravras – which was shot in Morocco in support of the Women to Drive Movement. The song was ranked 27th best track of the 2010s by Pitchfork, and has featured in over 200 thousand TikTok videos.
‘I Get to Love You’ has become an anthem of #emotion #devotion #love and #relationships on TikTok. Ruelle – or Maggie Eckford – originally wrote the song for her husband to be played at their wedding during the first dance. Eckford reflects on Twitter that the lyrics of the song are an “honest reflection” on her love for her husband, on their wedding dance as “the moment I realized I don’t have to love him. I get to”.
Every picture tells a story, and we love lyrics that do do too! A perfect marriage this week then, as our Music Seen theme is Stories, combining some excellent music with an original illustration by Isabel von der Ahe.
Lead singer Thom Yorke wrote ‘Creep’ in 1987 while studying at Exeter University prior to the formation of Radiohead. When asked about the meaning of its lyrics, he said that they tell the story of an alienated man. The man’s infatuated by a beautiful woman who’s disturbed by his drunken advances. ‘Creep’ has become an anthem for the disillusioned. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood sees the song as containing a positive message about “recognising what you are”.
The third track off American blues singer Mildred Anderson’s album ‘No More in Life’ 1960. Anderson tells the story of financial and spiritual hardship in New York City. Bad luck meets her wherever she goes after moving to the Big Apple. The song climaxes with a shrill and lonesome tenor saxophone solo by Al Sears, and ends with Anderson lamenting, “Bad luck, hard times / Don’t know when they’ll end… / I can't even rub two quarters together / And I ain’t got a single friend”.
A lesser known song from Amy Winehouse’s second and final studio album ‘Back To Black’ 2006. The lyrics tell the story of a tumultuous relationship from a woman’s – presumably Amy’s – perspective. She longs for the company of an unnamed man who’s absent during the day, appearing only in her dreams. “He's fierce in my dreams, seizing my guts / He floods me with dread / Soaked in sorrow, he swims in my eyes by the bed”.
The debut single of Jamie T tells the story of the tragic deaths of three people living in London – Sheila, Jack and Georgina. “It's quite a grim song”, says Jamie in a 2011 interview with Q magazine. “It came from conversations I had with people in a couple of bars I used to hang out in; people who weren't from London but came to live here. They come to the city and realise it's not all it's cracked up to be.”
The opening track off Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf’s sixth studio album, ‘The Neon Skyline’ 2020. The song is a celebration of everydayness. Acoustic guitars and melodic bass lines carry the vocals which tell the story of a quiet night out – smoking with Charlie, chewing toast on the way to the bar, being served drinks by Rose, remembering nights out with Judy. “Oh I’m just fine”, sings Shauf. “I’m wasting time, sometimes there’s no better feeling than that”. The track was featured in Obama's 2020 summer playlist.
Twenty-year-old London-based MC Loski teams up with veteran rapper Mike Skinner to produce ‘Blinded’, the second song on Loski’s third studio album, ‘Music, Trial & Trauma: A Drill Story’ 2020. Loski’s rap tells the story of violence and loss on the streets of Kennington, London. He grieves over the stabbings of two fellow Harlem Spartans rappers, “SA” (Splash Addict) and “Risky” (Bis), and reflects on his relationship with his brother. The song samples Skinner’s ‘Blinded by the Lights’ 2004, which is all about clubbing, pills and feeling lost in the crowd.
We just missed Taco day (It was October 4th) because of our commitment to our furry and feathered animal friends... however we love Tacos soooo much that we still wanted to celebrate them with a week dedicated to some Mexican gems from the CMP catalogue.
In case you haven't tried them, go check out Tacos El Pastor. They're a Playlister client, great friends and honestly, they serve the best in London!
Not Mexican so perhaps an odd choice to start our homage to the humble taco! However we love this Puerto Rican via Brooklyn band of brothers. In 1970, Jose Lebron composed 'SALSA Y CONTROL" a song that is credited with helping to give a broad category of Latin music the name" salsa". The other type of Salsa is of course an essential element in tacos!
Born Miguel Laure Rubio in 1939 in El Salto, Mexico, Mike's fusion of tight tropical rhythms with American rock & roll earned him the title "El Reydel Trópico" or king of the Tropics!
Avelina Landín Rodríguez was born in Mexico City and was considered "one of the great and distinctive voices of Mexican bolero music". We love her soft and sultry delivery of this song which translates as You Were Late... One should never be late for Tacos. No one likes a soggy tortilla.
An emotional outpouring from this wonderful songsmith Chelo, the 'Ranchera Voice of Mexico.' Ranchera music is a traditional genre of Mexican music and dates back to before the Mexican Revolution. It is closely associated with the rural folk music played by Mariachi bands.
Heading back to the Salsa for this song from Music Seen favourite Hector Lavoe... Translated as 'My People', this was a hit for Lavoe and is considered by many to be his signature song.
Originating from the Ghanaian children's game Kye Kye Kule, this song makes reference to the argument that all Latin music, and in fact rhythmic music itself comes from Africa...
Listen, you, sitting there
You look Venezuelan
You see we come here to dance
That we all are brothers
They dance it in Venezuela
They dance it in Panama
This rhythm is African
And where it wants it will finish
World Animal Day is 'a social movement charged with the Mission of raising the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe'.
We think it's a smashing excuse to choose 7 tracks that feature something furry, feathered or fierce in the title!
Opening up our World Animal Week tribute playlist, here's some excellent fuzzy guitars, a rocking beat and a solid lyric from the wonderful singer/songwriter Jackie Lomax to describe what the majestic eagle might think of modern day fame mongers, if it wasn't screeching shrilly and hunting for wild mice. Lomax penned the track New Day which featured in the very first Music Seen weekly playlist back in January, expertly covered by Lyra.
Most famous for co-writing "Little Things" with Ed Sheeran which became a number-one single in 13 countries for One Direction, this is a jaunty pop song with a keen banjo rhythm and a sweet vocal.
'We snatch our time together
From the jaws of a bright eye tiger
Don't sleep much and wake up tireder'
She's supported The Vaccines and Albert Hammond Jr and co-wrote this song with Linda Perry (who also wrote Beautiful for Christina Aquilera and Get this Party Started for Pink), so the girl with a Lion in her name and a Wolf in her lyrics fully deserves her place on our World Animal Day Music Seen tribute!
David Baldwin says of his project Creature Of Doom - “I always wanted this project to sound like a funk band playing in a dungeon"! We love this swampy electro pop track which doesn't take itself toooo seriously!
some days ill fight him off with a shotgun
some days I'll fight him off with a broom
but mostly I just avoid making eye contact
with the elephant in the room
Mikaela trained as a harpist before diverting to singing/songwriting and we're glad she did. This psychedelic pop/rock track features her beautiful singing and playing and we think she has a similar style to another Playlister favourite, Fever Ray, in a good way.
This southern rock band was formed in 1971. This track is from their 1975 album of the same name. The Dog Days or Dog Days of Summer are 'the hot, sultry days of summer'. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Hellenistic astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck'
"The dog days were scorchers
But we found an answer to the plight
It was a dog day's night"
To celebrate National Recycle Week we've compiled 7 tracks from the Concord Music Publishing catalogue that have been skilfully 'upcycled' by new artists! There are a few surprises this week (check out the awesome Outkast remix at the end of the week) and we think all of these versions add something special to the originals.
This is the perfect song to kick off the Music Seen Recycle Week! Mark Ronson's Version album from 2007 is the ultimate example of an artist or producer interpreting existing tracks and refreshing them for a new audience. The original of this from the Kaiser Chiefs album Employment from 2005.
Released this year, an up-cycled version of the absolute classic from Lionel Richie from 1983. The original has previously featured in Music Seen at track number 44, from the Valentine's week playlist. So good we've used both versions!
The original song written by Glen Ballard and Chynna Phillips has been streamed 105 Million times (or thereabouts!) - This recycled version is by young Irish talent Josh Gray, who signed to Concord Music Publishing in 2019.
Written by Badfinger's Peter Ham and Tom Evans in 1970, this was recycled many times but most famously and successfully for Harry Nilsson in 1971. Paul McCartney once described this power ballad as "The killer song of all time"
Such poignant lyrics on nature versus nurture from the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from South Pacific;
You've got to be taught, to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught, to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You've got to be carefully taught
You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught
This song from 1946 by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne has been recorded many times by artists including Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, but it's this cool duet between another legendary member of the Rat Pack, and the beautiful Carmen McRae.
The UN General Assembly has declared the 21st September International Peace Day, a day 'devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire'.
Here at Music Seen, we think that is something worth celebrating so we've compiled 7 tracks to remind us of how unity amongst us humans has never been more important!
Not to be confused with the UK funk band of the same name, The Real Thing (US version) existed between 1969 and 1972 and the lead singer Stu Gardner appeared in awesome 60s movie Point Blank as a singer in the night club scene. Check out the Lee Marvin classic if you like your movies mean and funky. We love this declaration of love in different languages...
This is from Jimmy's album Special from 1982. Jimmy Cliff is perhaps best known for his album the The Harder They Come in 1972, as well as appearing in the movie of the same name. If you haven't seen it or heard it, check it out!
Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul
Say no more!
Jacob has appeared in Music Seen a couple of times already and with good reason. We love this beautiful spacious duet that springs into action after a couple of minutes and becomes quite a different animal altogether!
You can have it all
When you find greatness in the peace that you do not claim
You will have it all
When you find greatness in the peace that you do not claim
Nick claims the lyrics for this song came to him whilst jamming with writing partner and collaborator Dan Carey, whilst enjoying sacred cactuses and getting a visitation from David Bowie! We'd have loved to be at that session!
Based on the New Testament chapter Mathew 5:9 this is a beautiful choral piece with voice and piano from Concord Music Publishing / Boosey and Hawkes' very own Boosey and Hawkes Singers. It comes from a collection of works composed by Karl Jenkins:"The Peacemakers is dedicated to the memory of all those who lost their lives during armed conflict: in particular, innocent civilians. When I composed The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace for the millennium, it was with the hope of looking forward to a century of peace. Sadly, nothing much has changed."
What does tomorrow hold for you? Will love land on your doorstep? Will you be allowed to venture further than your doorstep?? Will fortune favour the brave, or should you throw caution to the wind? (as long as everyone downwind of you is wearing a mask). For Music Seen number 37 (!) Here's our list of double-vaxxed songs that celebrate the circular nature of life as we know it, and aim to humbly explore how we solve a few of life's eternal conundrums.
Written by Bennie Benjamin (so good they named him twice) and George David Weiss, this is a popular song published in 1951. Whilst recorded multiple times by various artists (famously including Dinah Washington) it's best remembered for this cool version.
Released back in 2015, this is gentle yet emotive songwriting at its absolute best. Heavenly delivery by the then 20 year old singer./songwriter. What were you/are you up to at age 20? If it isn't/wasn't this, are you/any of us trying hard enough?
We love this song. The production, lyrics and beautiful delivery... What a talent. Giving the world it's faith back in pop music!
It’s your life that you’re making
It ain’t big enough if it doesn’t scare the hell out of you
If it makes you nervous
It’s probably worth it
A quality slow jam from Jessie Ware's 2017 album Glasshouse.
Maybe I ask a little too much
I could take all of you, it's still not enough
Maybe I'm lost, maybe I'm weak
What if I'm not the one you thought I would be?
Running in circles, not running away
You'd be the ocean and I'd be the wave
This delightful slice of psychedelic soul is from Bonet's second album Childqueen from 2018.
With both parents musicians and a classical training herself, there's no wonder that talent and originality shines so brightly in her work.
Andy Shauf, Dallas Bryson and brothers Avery and Darryl Kissick cite Paul Simon as a main influence for their 2018 album of the same name. We love the way “Fall Into a Dream” shifts from a soft folky ballad to a psychedelic guitar laden track right at the midway point.
Following our epic Screen week back in July, here's our list of tracks that have made it to the Stage! Musical productions that included singing, acting and dialogue have existed as a form of storytelling and entertainment since ancient times. It wasn't until the 19th Century that modern Western musical theatre emerged and blew up on both sides of the pond, establishing London's West End and New York's Broadway as the power centres of a huge movement that continues to this day (when the theatres reopen!) We celebrate some tracks from the Concord catalogue that have appeared in some of the biggest shows in history, with a couple of songs on the list that have worked their way into the very fabric of the Western musical lexicon.
Who doesn't sing along to this ditty when they hear it? From South Pacific, the musical composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein and that premiered in 1949 on Broadway and was an immediate hit, running for 1,925 performances! Also made famous for a second time with the brilliant cover by Captain Sensible from punk band The Damned in 1982.
From The King & I, this song (with this version from the movie version also starring the unforgettable Yul Brynner) is originally from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 5th musical, that premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway's St James' Theatre. It ran for nearly three years, making it the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history at the time. It has also been a hugely successful sync track, featuring in ads for American Express, Airbnb, Mcdonalds and Vodafoneuk amongst many others.
Maggie Flynn is a 1968 musical by Peretti, Creatore, and Weiss and was inspired by a true story set in the New York Draft Riots of 1863. The Broadway production opened on October 23, 1968 where it ran for 82 performances and 6 previews. The cast included newcomers Irene (Flashdance... What a Feeling) Cara and Stephanie (Never Knew Love Like This Before) Mills!
Under the directorship of Sam Mendes, the stage version of the brilliant movie premiered on London's Drury Lane in 2013 and broke the record for weekly ticket sales in London.
Based of course on the Roald Sahl book, this is Veruca Salt's ode to greed and was accompanied by the Oompa Loompa chorus!
From the 1947 Broadway Rodgers and Hammerstein production, which was less successful for it's moralistic tone and gritty realism. Who wants gritty realism in their musical theatre?? Not the critics or the paying public it seems.
From Pipe Dream, Rodgers and Hammerstein's 7th stage production and based on the short novel 'Sweet Thursday' from John Steinbeck. This premiered in 1955 on Broadway.
It's New York in the late 50s and you've sauntered into a jazz club in downtown New York City. and you immediately start crying. It's not the haunting tone of the saxophonist... It's that EVERYONE IS SMOKING! A head nod then to a beloved bygone era this week, where the cats were cool and the air was thick with musical creativity.
This Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is given a seriously cool makeover here. From the album 'The Believer', released in 1964.
Oozing attitude and a soft resonance, music to let you drift away from our favourite jazz composer. Check out the documentary 'Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool' on Netflix for an extra fix.
Taking the club vibe uptempo with this Hard Bop/Latin number, based on the traditional Bahamian folk song 'Sponger Money' and the traditional English song 'The Lincolnshire Poacher'. Check the epic Max Roach drum solo!
Early Amy, channelling Billie Holiday via North London. Serious jazz chops from arguably one of our greatest modern singer song writing talents.
A soulful night at the club as the epic soaring vocal of Sam Cooke, singing this standard from Eric Maschwitz. We previously featured the Etta James version back in February for Music Seen Valentines Day tribute!
We can't get enough of the intro to this song... Oscar 'BoBo' Brown's effortless upright bass, the piano and drums rolling in like spirits from the sea. Brown the son of Oscar Brown Jr, civil rights activist, actor and songwriter, tragically died at age 38 in 1996, robbing the world of one of Chicago's most talented musical exports.
This is our musical message of motivation to our friends and followers... time to get moving people!
This is one of our favourite funky disco tracks from the mid 70s. It reached number 1 in the R&B and disco charts in 1976. Singer, pianist, flautist and arranger Randy Muller went on to score a number of hits with Skyy and B. T. Express!
Got myself together, yeah
Gonna get higher
And movin' on...
This is a sad song with a nice vibe dedicated to the art of moving on from a relationship... a tough hustle at the best of times!
Look at you moving on
Even I think it's fucked
They all look like you these days
They all look like you these days
The marvellous Shirley's motivational message to us all... Released in 1967 and sassy as hell to this day.
Timeless and sadly continually poignant lyrics here from a seriously talented troubadour.
The song concerns racial tolerance and the need for perspective and compassion.
If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other's mind
If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your own ego I believe you'd be
I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind
Walk a mile in my shoes
Just walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Then walk a mile in my shoes
Sweden's most awesome garage punk superstars scored big with this retro-credible banger back in 2001!
If this doesn't get you off the sofa for a front room pogo we don't know what will!!
Wonderful synth-man-ship from Gabe Fulvimar who legend has it received props from his personal hero Giorgio Moroder for this uplifting and edgy synth-rock belter.
PULSE, a leading American music publishing company and label, is part of Concord Music Publishing's stable of heavy hitters, and is packed full of some pretty epic songwriters, producers and performers. We've cherry picked a selection of our favourite tracks from their roster.
Kicking off our week of PULSE bangers we give you French Montana's 'Unforgettable'. Explaining his choice of artwork (a picture of his parents wedding in Morocco) and the incentive he has found to make it as an artist in the States having emigrated from North Africa, he said:
"We were on welfare and she worked overtime to keep us fed, clothed and a roof over our heads. I promised my mother that I would hustle and make my accomplishments unforgettable once I found my opportunity. I want other people who might be struggling to know that the sky is not the limit…"
Cordae, here joined by PlaylisterFM favourite Anderson Paak is a rapper, singer and songwriter and is formally part of the now disbanded YBN collective. He's dating tennis player Naomi Osaka!
Born Faridah Seriki and Grammy nominated for the excellent dance track 'Rinse and Repeat' with Riton, this Afro-Pop track is a nod to Kah-Lo's Nigerian heritage.
As known for her extraordinary style and confidence as her explicit rapid fire delivery.
"Hoes tryna call me a snake, shit, I guess I can relate
'Cause a bitch spit a whole lot of venom
And since these hoes all rats, when they come around me
All I see is a whole lotta dinner
I walk around the house butt-naked, and I'll stop at every mirror
Just to stare at my own posterior
I 'on't a give a fuck who talk behind my back
'Cause the bitch knew better than to let me hear"
This is about living the archetypal rappers lifestyle when the cash starts rolling in...
"I was twenty-six years old when we had dropped this one amazing record
Had the world stepping
That's what I call epic
Couple summers later I got paper
I acquired taste for salmon on a bagel
With the capers on a square plate
At the restaurant with the why you got to stare face"
Ridiculously talented Haitian-Canadian Louis Kevin Celestin known as Kaytranada signed to XL Recordings in 2014, has won multiple Grammys and other accolades, has collaborated with Robert Glasper & Anderson Paak and formed a partnership with Rick Rubin, supported by PULSE. A star then! We love this vocal by the also excellent Tinashe.
To celebrate the legendary album 'All Things Must Pass' by George Harrison reaching the half century, we've chosen 7 tracks of Harrison gold... Some performed by the man himself, and a couple of surprises towards the end of the week... watch this space! This went straight to no.1 when it was released and stayed at the top spot for 7 weeks, overshadowing all solo albums by the other former Beatles. Recorded at Abbey Road and produced by Phil Spector, it's made up of tracks he'd written during his time as a Beatle. Get your copy of the re-released and remastered masterpiece at all good record dealers!
The title track and a pearler to kick off George week. This song has been called 'perhaps the greatest solo Beatle composition. Originally recorded by long-time Beatles collaborator Billy Preston, and overlooked for their LP 'Let It Be', this song draws inspiration from Timothy Leary's poem "All Things Pass" and has a message of optimism against fatalism. Ripe for our times!
Written as a love letter to his wife Pattie Boyd and released on The Beatles album 'Let It Be' in 1970, the Dylan inspired country blues style song features John Lennon playing lap steel guitar.
One of our favourite compositions from George's solo output, even with his hoarse vocal style, a result of being overworked and exhausted in 1974 and contracting laryngitis. The term "Dark Horse" had long been applied to Harrison due to his emergence as the most accomplished of the former Beatles after their break-up in 1970.
What a heartfelt sentiment and energy this song has. Biographers and reviewers have variously described it as an essay on karma, a tale of lost friendship, and a love song to the Beatles. A comment then on the fractious relationships that had developed between the other band members and various management factions. Biographer Joshua Greene, suggests that partly through his association with the Hare Krishna movement, Harrison was now "too sure of his life's higher purpose to waste any more time on petty squabbles.
'Everyone has choice
When to or not to raise their voices
It's you that decides
Which way you will turn'
'Only you'll arrive
At your own made end
With no one but yourself to be offended
It's you that decides'
The first of our covers of classic George Harrison songs, this is a dreamy version of the track penned by George and Bob Dylan and released in 1970. The track maybe a love letter of friendship between the two legendary songwriters and is done full justice, we think, with this cover from CLARA-NOVA, with contributions from The Guest and the Host and Avid Dancer.
This version of George's spiritual album track from All Things Must Pass is re-imagined as a sexy as hell jam, in the hands of brilliant Indian singer Asha Puthli. This version was sampled by Kano for his 2005 track Reload it!
There's not a great deal more to be said about the pandemic that hasn't already been expressed. One of the things that has kept most of us sane has been staying in touch with friends; whether through a walk and a chat (when allowed), phone chats and WhatsApp groups, and of course, the eponymous Zoom catch ups! Friends are important, now more than ever, and to celebrate International Friendship Day we've collated 7 tracks to share with someone special in your life.
A lovely warm vibe to this dance track by the ever brilliant Myd with Bullion on remix duties. Evokes the feeling of dancing with your mates at dawn at an outdoor party! Heaven.
Perhaps more of a love letter than a note to a penpal but lovers can be friends too right?!
It might not be the right time
I might not be the right one
But there's something about us I want to say
'Cause there's something between us anyway
I might not be the right one
It might not be the right time
But there's something about us I've got to do
Some kind of secret I will share with you
This is the perfect song to send to someone you can't be with physically but who holds a place in your heart.
Maybe if the stars align, maybe if our world's collide
Maybe on the dark side we can be together, be together
Maybe in a million miles, on the highway through the skies
Someday soon we'll be together
We love this ode to friendship and to a love that can not be broken. The 80s style video is super cool too; bubblegum Carrie!
That's why I could never lose you
Line up I will always choose you
Oh on a night like this
It's just a fact
How could I ever have a friend like that, that, that
Radio playing in the car we had, had, had, had
Hearts will break
We always stay the same
More poignant lyrics for our time and a smooth delivery from Johnny Nash
Together we stand
Divided we fall We are for one One is for all Aren't we just people who need people Hey hey hey Let's be friends
'Get together baby, before it's too late!'
An apt message of positivity in the face of the haters. An uplifting up-tempo Latin jazz track from the king of percussion who played with everyone from George Benson to Weather Report. One of the greats.
This week we present 7 platters of pure old gold... These are tracks you may know and if not, we hope they take you back to a bygone era where most people's entertainment revolved around stuffin' a nickel into a Jukebox!
What better way to launch our jukebox selection than Gene Vincent. Gene Vincent was one of the earliest stars of Rockabilly and wrote his biggest hit, Be Bop A Lula aged 21. He tragically died aged 36 but is revered as one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll and Rockabilly. Ian Drury paid tribute with the 1976 song 'Sweet Gene Vincent'.
'Well, I got a little woman called, Crazy Legs
She's the queen of the teenage crowd
All the cats stuffin' nickels in the ol' jukebox
Just to watch her do the bop when the music gets loud'
A fab 60s bubblegum pop tune covered by many including Vic Reeves and The Wonder Stuff!
The drum break at the top of the track was used in a Balearic classic (and favourite of ours) by The Aloof called Never Get Out Of The Boat.
Joe South has appeared in Music Seen before, back in week 11 - the Grammy Awards.
A serious guitarist alongside his front man chops, South played Bass guitar on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album, and the unforgettable tremolo guitar intro on Aretha Franklin's Chain of Fools!
This group was regarded as one of the best vocal groups on the West Coast USA in the 50s. A rollicking uptempo jukebox flavour to this one...
One of 'Chicago's reigning blues piano patriarchs', this record was in fact recorded in 1961 in New Jersey and released on the album Slim's Shout.
A proponent of Texas Blues and Country Blues in the 1950s, Andrew 'Smokey' Hogg is a sadly overlooked bluesman reminiscent of Muddy Waters.
For some (the lucky ones) a beach is within reach! Whether your holiday is on/off/on again... here's a playlist of songs to remind you of sandy flip flops, sangria hangovers, and a scorching sun slow-cooking your forehead. Bring back beach holidays!
How do you relax? A glass of wine and a trashy novel? A meditation App and some herbal tea? Whatever your poison, Dean and Line's cruise-y vocals should assist in bringing you to the desired state of rest-ay-voo required.
Tranquil beach vibes from 2018. Lovely guitar production and a seriously warm vocal from Sunni Colon.
"Gone with the wind
Trying to get back to you
Fall of the leaves
Trying for something new
Even the days come and they go too soon
Watching the sun waiting for summer blues"
This is a beauty from 1976. The band came together whilst working on sessions for George Harrison's album Extra Texture (Read All About It).
This is a track from the album Phantasy from 1967. Light pop-psyche from the first summer of love.
Released by the Beastie Boys Grand Royal label in 1998, this is from Sean's debut album and features the vocals and co-producer talents of his then girlfriend Yuka Honda, founder of the band Cibo Matto.
A jaunty ode to a get-away with the wonderful lyrics:
"A vegetarian since the invasion
She'd never seen the word 'bombs'
She'd never seen the word 'bombs'
Blown up to 96-point Futura
She'd never seen an AK
In a yellowy Day-Glo display
A T-shirt so lovely, It turned all the history books grey"
This week, grab your popcorn and a large coke, and roll out the red carpet because it's the premiere of Screen week on Music Seen! We present 7 tracks that have been used in movies and TV shows young and old, blockbusters, rolling series and underground indies. Each one of the tracks added an essential element to the creative and commercial success of these films.
Kicking off Screen Week, Girlhood is the title track to the excellent coming of age movie of the same name from 2014. The track was produced by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier known professionally as Para One, the French electronic music producer and film director.
The lead track from the 2018 remake of A Star is Born. Lady Gaga duetted with Bradley Cooper, the other star of the movie. Hugely successful as a single, this was co-written by Gaga, Mark Ronson, Dirty Pretty Things' Anthony Rossomando and Miike Snow's Andrew Wyatt.
This gem of a track by the brilliant Dusty has been used in multiple movies and TV shows over the years, notably in 1998's Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
If you were abducted by aliens and or don't have daughters of a certain age, you may have missed the movie Frozen; the animated tale of a pair of princesses who have a chilly adventure with a magical Scandinavian backdrop. This was an important scene setting piece from the score.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical Carousel featured this duet about love between the star crossed lovers. Richard Rodgers wrote that Carousel was his favourite of all his musicals..
This jaunty and uplifting track by the brilliant and sadly missed Makeba has been used in numerous TV shows including Dave, Call the Midwife, and Brassic as well as feature film Poms from 2019.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Wannabe by Spice Girls, we offer you a playlist of pop perfection for Music Seen no. 27. This is girl power turned up to 11 and features some of popular music's most successful female artists and tracks. We wanna!
Icon. legend, stalwart of stage, screen and the worldwide airwaves, Kylie Minogue is an institution in popular culture and anyone who says different should meet me for a gentle scrap in the high street, behind the (Jason) Donner Van.
It is fair to say that Alanis gives an earnest and brilliantly poetic voice to this week's theme of 'girl power', perfectly complementing and dare we say leading our playlist of game changing female artists and epic tracks.
This is a Balearic anthem from Playlister FM favourites Talk Talk, given gravity, additional grace and a new lease of pop life from Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. Seminal!
A break out track in 1993 for the unique and important Gabrielle, paving the way for female artists with her unique style and talent.
A statement on the state of things for kids, teenagers, tweens, kidults, us, them... all of us.
We're screen junkies one and all. Once you accept it, does it make it OK?!
Big energy from Australian singer songwriter Holiday Sidewinder who has worked with some of the best in the business and shines a powerful light on femininity and creativity in the modern world.
To celebrate the halfway mark, 26 weeks of Music Seen, our project that presents a new illustration or artwork, alongside a themed weekly playlist, we’ve decided to share 7 new releases... If these tracks or artists weren't already on your radar, you're welcome!
From pop, rap, rock and dance, to dystopian electro soundtracks to films that don't exist yet, we feel each track is important in its own way and demonstrates the diversity and depth of our awesome project with Concord Music Publishing. Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride and happy half anniversary to Music Seen!
What a production and vocal! YEBBA has collaborated with the likes of Stormzy, Mark Ronson, A Tribal Called Quest and Robert Glasper. A serious singing and songwriting talent. We love this song.
We adore the music from Greentea Peng at Playlister FM, and tracks regularly make it into our more discerning lists for clients around the world. An awesome delivery, lyrical skill and vibe. Psychedelic R&B at its best.
Youtuber, boxer and artist Olajide Olayinka Williams "JJ" Olatunji better known as KSI has, as of March 2021, over 34 million subscribers and over 8 billion video views across his two YouTube channels! A huge star for our times then, and set for one of the biggest hits of the year as this song goes to number 1 in multiple countries around the world.
Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman (AKA Mr Jukes)'s collaboration with Barney Artist has resulted in this uplifting UK rap track, reminiscent of Roots Manuva in all the right ways. As Barney said about the project '"The aim is to bring hope to people after the maddest year."
Jessica Smyth, known by the stage name Biig Piig, is an Irish singer and rapper, based in West London. Released in late May, this is sultry rock track with attitude. On her journey into music having arrived in London aged 14 she says ' "I didn't have any friends, I didn't have a school for ages, so I was on my own in my room a lot. I didn't really have anyone to talk to, so it became this isolation thing. At that age too, you've got so much going on in your head. You're trying to understand. I feel like I got into this place where I was like, 'Well if I don't start doing something, I'm going to literally go mad'.
Dance music superstars Alex Metric and Riton have released a few great tracks under the moniker KUU and this chuggy number is really growing on us. Shungudzo is a Zimbabwean-American singer amongst many other things and we think these guys compliment each other perfectly.
We're honoured to support the charity War Child. Music and the use of music therapy have been proven to assist in the treatment and rehabilitation of children and young people affected by armed conflict and war. This important non-profit organisation has pioneered some of these methods and continues to do so.
We invited War Child to take over this week's Music Seen, and they've chosen some kids classics as well as lyrically poignant tracks from the catalogue. If you want to help, you can contact them www.warchild.org.
From the wondrous 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, this song remains a firm children's classic to this day - 'Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three...'
An emotive lyric and uplifting vocal from the brilliant singer Judith Hill.
Better days will surely come
Find a way
Find a way to carry on
Till the hurt in me is gone finally
Better days will come
Another wonderfully soulful vocal with heart-warming lyrics, from one of our favourite British singers Andreya Triana
"You know you're never alone
When times are hard I'll hold you close
Let love heal you and I'll do the same
You know I will be here at the end of the day".
Seriously moving vocal and instrumentation on this track from July 2020, written by Christine and the Queens for the TV series Hanna.
"She will come whenever I call her
But she'll leave as soon as I sigh
She's got the eyes of a child
And she'll love without any sorrow
For she just aims for the light
She's got the eyes of a child".
Covering Beyonce's beautiful track 'Other Side', James Blake shows us here why he's one of the world's great producer/singer songwriters.
"If the storm comes, if we burn up
If the wells run dry
You're my reason to believe in
If it all ends, and it's over
If the sky falls fire
Best believe me, you will see me
On the other side".
The first 11 years of Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam's life were marked by displacement caused by the Sri Lankan Civil War and she and her family eventually returned to London as refugees.
Her music is threaded with 'evocative political and philosophical commentary' and the video for this track, which showed the portrayal of military force, violence and brutality met with a positive critical reception, but much controversy worldwide, including a ban from YouTube in the US and UK.
To coincide with Cannes Lions, the "Oscars" of the advertising industry’, this week we’re all about
the art of the sync, where a song is ‘synched’ with the visual and brand message for an advert, tv show or movie.
Working on Music Seen with one of the biggest independent publishing libraries means we can cherry pick our favourite successful syncs that Concord Music Publishing have achieved over the last few years...
We kick off with 'Where We Come Alive’, a track from Ruelle for an ad from 2021 for Standard Chartered Bank. The Agency is TBWA/Singapore.
Ruelle is known in the industry as 'The Queen of Sync!'- she was Tunefind (a music discovery website)'s no.1 artist in 2018.
This track was used in an Apple 11 ad and was chosen by Media Arts Lab from LA. Apple are notoriously clever at choosing music for their ads and have been from the beginning, so this is a serious accolade!
Says Alice: 'Growing up I was obsessed with iPod ads and I’d download all the songs from them. Apple choosing my song “In My Mind” for a global iPhone 11 ad campaign is something I never could have dreamed of!'
It's awesome when a piece of music is a bit incongruous and adds a bit of humour to a piece of film...
We think this track with Churchill is an unusual but brilliantly balanced fit! Hats off to the Agency Engine and music supervisors Adelphoi for this one.
Kavinsky's excellent flavour of moody 80s sounding synth pop has been used in numerous films (anyone remember Nightcall featuring in Drive from 2011?) and is cleverly utilised in an ad for Gousto, the meal kit retailer, by the London agency Mother.
Do you remember the ad from 2015, featuring a bunch of monkeys who come across a kitchen in the middle of their jungle? It's a good'n, and we love the energy the music gives to it - 'Pyschotic Reaction' by the brilliant Brenton Wood. Hats off to the agency for this one.
This was used in a US Audi ad called 'Cashew' for the Superbowl in 2019. It's worth tracking down on Google as it's another pretty funny film! This was chosen by the company Venables Bell and Partners.
To celebrate Pride Month we've chosen tracks we love from some icons of the LGBTQ+ community as well as some fresh and diverse talent.
A cool opener for our week celebrating Pride month. Australia's dance producer Touch Sensitive is joined here by American singer Daniel Wilson. We love this track!
Hailing from Sudan but now based in the Twin Cities, Saleh made the beats to this track on their cell phone! Clever and biting lyrics aimed at an inquisitive neighbour accompanied by this inventive use of a metronome and minimal staccato production make this an exciting release.
Samuel Falso, an Australian who made his name via stints in LA and London released this soulful 80s inspired pop number in late 2019.
This rap/boy band formed in 2010 and have been described as "gay, black, white, DIY, ambitious, all-inclusive, and would-be pop stars!"
Multiple Emmy winning drag queen, actor, model, singer, songwriter, television personality, and author, RuPaul is indifferent to which gender specific pronouns are used to refer to him and once quipped, "You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don't care! Just as long as you call me."
American singer, actress and TV personality, Cher has been recording and performing for 6 decades and is one of the most successful; recording artist of all time, has received a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar and three Golden Globe awards amongst numerous other accolades and is the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in six consecutive decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s! This living legend has become an iconic figure in the gay community mainly for her philanthropic endeavors, and social activism, including LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.
The love of food and cooking is a theme close to most of our hearts (and stomachs) and we've chosen 7 tracks that translate this in a deliciously musical way.
A favourite synth-popclassic from 1980, this is an ode to escaping the melee and chat up members of the opposite sex, in the quiet confines of the kitchen.
This Rodgers and Hart popular song, describes having to perform to earn your food... Sing for your supper, and you'll get breakfast. Songbirds always eat, if their song is sweet to hear. The Mamas and the Papas were a mixed gender folk-rock group who famously imploded after a tumultuous period of typical 60s abandon!
Born in 1999, this was released in 2016 and is described as; "a song about the greed of people, the thoughts that we’re all sort of stuck in this consumerist frame of mind. You live for over-kill, but you’re ungrateful still. All you want is honey, well honey I tried, you just want more and now it’s all gone.”
A jazzy little instrumental number from our favourite experimental, folk pop group, dedicated to the wonderful Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, which is a genusof flowering plants in the cactus family. Prickly pears are also known as tuna, sabra, nopal, or nostle!
This electro pop track is about everyone's favourite sweet/savoury ice cream flavour! A summery banger from 2019.
This is from the 1968 album The Beatles, also known as The White Album. Written by George Harrison, it's inspired by his friend Eric Clapton's fondness for chocolate. The lyrics list the various flavours offered in Mackintosh's Good News chocolates and serve as a warning to Clapton about the detrimental effect that his gorging would have on his teeth!
To balance the chaos that life sometimes throws at us, we've compiled a meditation playlist to coincide with International Meditation Day. Sit back, relax and be transported somewhere transcendental.
Georgs Pelecis style is described as new consonant music with an amazingly clear positive spirit, the perfect soundtrack to clear your mind through the practise of meditation. Joined here by celebrated Australian pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra for the album Into Silence.
The wave-like piano progression of Karl's White Water can (hopefully) send you into a world far away, a meditative state of escape and harmony.
Max Richter is an extraordinarily talented composer who captures such sensitivity in so much of his music. Embers is a beautifully moving piece that can bring up so much emotion.
Unsent love-letters, a touching and thought provoking piano piece which can transport you to another time and place, again featuring the talents of Tamara Anna Cislowska.
There is something about a man and woman's harmony coming together that brings up feelings of contentment. We love Hallelujah by Oh Wonder withits beautiful piano accompaniment.
Music for film has a powerful way of taking hold of the listener, it makes the film if the soundtrack is good. The Peanut Butter Falcon is no exception and welove this piece by Jonathan Sadoff.
This week we celebrate the REMIX! The art of the remix, adding (or in the case of our final offering this week subtracting - you'll have to wait to see and hear!) elements to take the track somewhere new - usually to the club!
The original acoustic ode to her young children from one of Belgium's most successful pop stars is turned into a deep glitchy modern piece, with a nice twist on the original vocal courtesy of Kuna Maze aka Edouard Gilbert, the French-born producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist.
This is a neo-soul ballad from the Norwegian singer songwriter, taken up a gear or two with some pretty awesome UK Bass and skippy beats from London's Jack Latham AKA Jam City.
Nick makes another appearance on Music Seen, with this remix of his (in our humble opinion) pretty faultless track, remix duties come from the frankly wonderful band in their own right, Little Dragon. It's taken to a kind of wonky new place which is no bad thing!
The original of this track from Turin based producer Andrea Tirone AKA Mind Enterprises is a jaunty Italo electro pop record, reminiscent of everything good about Italian music in the mid 80s! The remix for this comes from the ever brilliant Norwegian producer Prins Thomas who takes the track to a disco in space and leaves it there without a lift home.
This original is a perfect electro pop outing from 2013 from Tunisian born London resident Nadia Ksaiba, a stalwart of the East London club scene and far beyond. This remix is by the Belfast DJ/producer Jordan and takes the track to a darker club, but this time shares an UBER home with it.
Also known as Chet Faker, Australian singer/songwriter/producer Nick Murphy has been releasing ace music for ages! This cool housey remix of his 2019 track comes from fellow Melbournian Cleopold.
It's the biggest music awards ceremony in the UK and has had its fair share of eventful shenanigans over the years at the live shows!
This track taken from the 2019 album Psychodrama (which won Dave the Mercury prize and album of the year at the 2020 Brits) is a message of positivity and self acceptrance: 'I fell in love with optimism. That whole track is metaphorical, but it’s about a constant chase for happiness. So when I’m saying, ‘All my life, I hear voices when I sleep, and they say, “You’re everything I need”,’ the everything I need is myself. Inner happiness. What everyone’s looking for.'
The wonderful James Blake has received three Brit nominations over the years, as well as winning a Grammy and the Mercury Prize in 2013! This track was released last July.
This is Christine's second feature on Music Seen and this is one of our favourite tracks of hers. She was nominated for a Brit in 2017 and 2019.
This track, nominated in 1989 for a Brit for British video of the year is one of Harrison's best songs. The recording references the psychedelic sound that the Beatles had helped popularise in 1967, through its use of sitar, cello, and backwards-relayed effects. Ringo also featured on the recording!
This classic opener from Dark Side Of the Moon is a perfect example of the British psychedelic sound of the 70s. Despit being one of the world's most successful bands, The Floyd strangely never won a Brit but was nominated for 4.
Unless you've been living under a rock, this song has firmly made its way into your consciousness in the last year!
We celebrate arguably the greatest American musical export with a list featuring 7 of the most revered, prolific and inventive singers, players and writers in the history of this wonderful genre.
Little Girl Blue (also known as Jazz As Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club) was the debut album released in 1959 by Nina Simone. We feature the title track here, a song written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. Nina, then in her mid 20s was an aspiring classical concert pianist and soon after recording this record, sold the rights to Bethlehem Records for $3,000 (the equivalent of around $27,000 today) Losing out on a million dollars in royalties! One of Jazz's most talented and original singers and pianists, the iconic Nina Simone is the perfect person to launch our selection of tracks dedicated to Jazz Appreciation Week.
The title track from the 1957 album features the technique of 'Strolling', used here by Rollins for the first time, in which he would play his solo Tenor Saxophone over only drums and bass, with no pianist playing chords. Now aged 90, Sonny Rollins is a legend of the genre and has been called "the greatest living improviser" and the "Saxophone Colossus".
Penned by Rollins but this time he's alongside the great Mile Davis and this was released in 1954 by the Miles Davis Quintet. Mile Davis had a decade that spanned 5 decades and had him play with some of the most revered musicians in the history of the genre. Rolling Stone magazine said of him "the most revered jazztrumpeter of all time, not to mention one of the most important musicians of the 20th century."
Written by Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss, this reached number 7 in the US R&B charts in 1950. Ella Fitzgerald is one of Jazz's most sublime singers, sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. After 60 years in the music industry, In 1993, she gave her last public performance. Her accolades included fourteen Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Coltrane was a band leader, composer and saxophonist who inspired and delighted with his use of 'free jazz'.
He played with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk amongst a roll call of other jazz luminaries and this track is from his album Soultrane, recorded in 1958.
Recorded in the late 50s, this is an uptempo rendition of the 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune from the musical Oklahoma! Jamal is still going aged 90 and when asked by a New York Times critic about his playling habits commented: "I used to practice and practice with the door open, hoping someone would come by and discover me. I was never the practitioner in the sense of twelve hours a day, but I always thought about music. I think about music all the time." A true legend of the scene.
This week we're celebrating the biggest awards ceremony in film, when music is recognised for its contribution to their successes (or failures), alongside all the other magical visual ingredients that make up our favourite movies.
It's the opening credits of our Oscars week playlist and we begin with a titan of a track (which most people of a certain age know some of the lyrics to!) My Favourite Things.
The 1965 musical The Sound Of Music won 5 academy awards (!) and was originally a broadway production telling the story of Maria (played by Andrews) a governess who falls in love with the 7 children in her charge, the Von Trapps, and then romantically with their father Captain Von Trapp, played by the great (and recently departed, RIP) Christopher Plummer. This merry bunch of Austrian hill worriers manage to escape the clutch of the Nazi's and live happily ever after. The American Film Institute named this the 55th greatest American movie of all time, and the 4th greatest movie musical!
Written by Nicholas Brodszky and Sammy Cahn this featured in the 1951 musical Rich Young And Pretty and was nominated for best original song. Using the latest technology of the time Technicolour, The New York Times said of the movie that it was as "pretty as a picture postcard and just about as exciting."
Written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, this "symphonic fairy tale for children" is Prokofiev's most frequently performed work. The academy award connected to this piece was won by Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman for their short animated version of the story from 2006.
Written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, this version from the movie High Time about a middle aged businessman (Crosby) deciding to go back to college aged 51 to gain his degree, was nominated for an Oscar in 1960. Henry Mancini conducted his orchestra for the recording! The track was later successfully recorded by Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand.
This song about Chicago is from the movie Robin and the 7 Hoods, a spoof gangster flick, and a retelling of the tale of the eponymous Robin Hood, who took from the rich and gave to the poor. This time Robin, or Robbo is a mobster who inadvertently becomes a folk hero for donating some ill gotten gains to a local orphanage. This was nominated in 1964 for the oscar for best original song.
Nominated for an academy award in 1985, this was one of Phil Collins's biggest hits and was commissioned by director Taylor Hackford as a soundtrack for the movie of the same name. Hackford stated that it "decidedly" helped the film: people identified the song with the film and came to watch it. When the single reached the top five (going on to reach no 1 in the US), it contributed to the increased box office sales of the movie.
Earth Day falls on April 22nd this year and is an important series of virtual and physical events held around the world. Here's our choice from the catalogue that has a thematic link or lyrical connection to our beloved mother Earth.
This track is one of Dan Playlister's all time favourites and a brilliant launch to this week's Music Seen in honour of our Earth. This song released in 1991 from the band's debut album The Stone Roses, is perhaps an ode to Britain's Americanisation, or a tale of a strong and resolute woman... you tell us what you think the lyrics of this baggy anthem mean!
See the steeple pine
The hills as old as time
Soon to be put to the test
To be whipped by the winds of the west.
The second outing for London's Ghost Culture on Music Seen... This wonderful and wobbly electronic outing is named after everyone's favourite ground clouds. We love this melancholic yet uplifting production especially the slightly eerie vocal treatment.
Apart from being a wonderful atmospheric alt-pop track that talks of the rain falling, essential behaviour enabling literally all of life on earth as we know if to take place, we discovered that Rainbow Jones is a highbred type of marijuana, created by breeders at the infamous Connoisseur Genetics farms as a 'dank cross between the insanely popular Grand Daddy Purple & Candy Jones strains'. Who knew!
Another of Playlister's favourites from Music Seen so far, anyone who's never heard this is in for a treat. Nitin is one of the UK's most talented musicians and contemporary jazz composers, and this track was huge for Playlister senior music curators and programmers back in 1999. The track is layered with sounds of the majestic and beleaguered ocean throughout, and it's only lyrics make reference to one of humanity's epic faux pas's.
This is beautiful, and again, melancholic electronic pop... from the catalogue at Concord Music Publishing. Released in 2016 this is a track with over 26 million (and counting) streams for a band that have toured with Years and Years and are surely destined for greater success. We can't wait for more from this lot.
We will go to the ocean
And we'll find love on the other side
And I'll take all our chances
Just as long as we're together
We can set sail to the night
Flow water flow
Our worries go
Flow water flow.
More emotive and atmospheric electronic pop music from Marina (of Marina the Diamonds fame), the Welsh singer songwriter and (we think) one of the UK's most underrated and wonderfully talented artists.
This week we're celebrating all things French and fabulous! We've got 7 cool jams to whisk you away to the streets of Paris and the divine beaches of the South!
The perfect song to begin our homage to France is from the unmistakable voice of Serge Gainsbourg. Perhaps France's most celebrated and controversial pop singer songwriter, Gainsbourg was as renowned for breaking the rules with his lyrics, as he was for his diverse artistic output, fusing multiple genres and styles from jazz and chanson, to funk, reggae and electronica. This jaunty pop number was released in 1964.
Influenced by Gainsbourg's Yé-yé movement (a pop scene in France in the 60s, meaning Yeah Yeah and inspired by bands like The Beatles), this Perpignan based husband and wife team release filmic pop that has forged it's own unique path. The lyrics in this song describe a boy meeting a girl on the Line 15 train, having a typically Parisian assignation, resulting in a botched escape attempt in the morning once discovering that the storyteller is bound at the hands and ankles, before getting married!
L'Eppe (The Sword) is a psychedelic rock supergroup formed of The Liminanas, Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and French actress Emmanuelle Seigner. This is a brilliant song with lyrics that when translated to English, tells the story of hallucinogenic dreams, of time travel and occult science where the La Brigade Des Malefice (or Hex Brigade) dwell!
This French band who plays funk-electronic-80s-soundtrack-revival music released this blissed out homage to the God of the sea in 2019. It seems to be a song about dancing on the sand dunes naked at 30 Degrees latitude, with Neptune!
This French group, composed of Jonathan, Damien and Clément, work between Paris and Berlin andthis eroticcally charged electro pop outing features Miss Kittin on vocal duties.
The video is certificate 18!
The fabulous Héloïse Adelaide Letissier aka Christine here continues her lyrical themes with a sing about love and the complexities of relationships '“Nuit 17 à 52” is a vignette covering the development of what turns out to be a dysfunctional romance where the participants struggle with identity and image as they pass the stage of superficial getting-to-know-you into a transitional stage covering nights 17 to 52'
Here's a collection of tracks we've picked that reference cities in a variety of styles and lyrical messages... Bring back the time we were able to consider city hopping!
Albert Hammond is a prolific songwriter of British/Gibraltan descent and the father of AH Jr, of the Strokes fame!
He's written hit singles for a phone book of stars including Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross amongst multiple other household names. This ode to the Big Apple kicks off our travel themed week.
A song about love across the time zones... Anyone who's ever had a long distance love affair can relate to this message! A marriage of acoustic and electronic styles make this one of the most interesting tracks from the 2018 EP, I Am With You.
Since 2011, Leftwich has gained 2,510,535 monthly listeners and sold 100,000 copies of his first album Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm which received over 150 million global Spotify plays!
More guitar led indie-pop business this time from this American band of hipster misfits. This may not be so much an ode to the city but more of a mild complaint that it's a tough place to be!
The Cortinas were a Bristolian punk band active between 1976 and 1978. They supported The Stranglers and Blondie and were one of the first pioneering punk bands to play at the infamous Roxy club in London. Guitarist Nick Sheppard went on to play with the final incarnation of The Clash and in keeping with the art-meets-music-meets-art journey of Music Seen, bass player Dexter Dalwood went on to become a successful fine artist, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010 and is currently a research professor of Fine Art at Bath Spa University!
This track by Nashville based singer songwriter is written as a letter to an unattainable love here... is it a girl or LA itself? This is from his 2020 EP, Falling.
'Such Expensive taste, a million different ways but she makes it all look amazing...
Her name is California... '
The ubiquitous sound of every bar, restaurant and hotel lobby in the early 2000s, this Paris based band that fuses Argentinian tango with beats and samples was a huge hit for music programming companies all over the world! Did for Argentina what Buena Vista Social Club did for Cuba! This tango is dedicated to the south of the country and was written by Astor Piazzolla and Fernando Solanas for the 1988 Argentine film “Sur”
I dream of the South,
a great big moon, sky upside down,
I seek the South,
the open time, and afterwards.
I love the South,
its good people, its dignity,
I feel the South,
like your body in intimacy.
To hark the change of seasons in the northern hemisphere, this week we celebrate the annual rebirth of mother nature with two extreme versions of the notion of spring; from the gentle sway of a breeze through the trees from a jazz trio at the top of their game.
Bill Evans, a favourite at Playlister HQ was an American pianist and composer who played with Miles Davis (importantly on the best selling Jazz album of all time Kind Of Blue) and Chet Baker (on Chet) before forming his famous trio and recording some of the most revered and blissful jazz albums of the 60s. He had a troubled life with drug addiction but was hugely influential to artists such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall and Rick Wright of Pink Floyd. Music critic Thom Jurek wrote of the album where this Rodgers and Hammerstein Oscar winning classic featured "...selections are so well paced and sequenced the record feels like a dream... Moon Beams was a startling return to the recording sphere and a major advancement in his development as a leader. Velvet Underground collaborator and singer Nico graced the cover art of the album Moon Beams, where this song appeared.
Influential and essential jazz trumpeter, composer and bandleader Miles Davis started out professionally as a member of Charlie Parker's bebop quintet in the mid 40s. He was an early proponent of hard bop, a fusion of rhythm and blues, gospel and blues music that appeared on the jazz scene in the early 1950s. Davis recorded some of the most important jazz albums of all time and his band included such luminaries as the aforementioned Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane. Rolling Stone described as "the most revered jazz trumpeter of all time, not to mention one of the most important musicians of the 20th century,"
Another Richard Rodgers composition, this time with Lorenz Hart on lyrical duties. This version from Patti Page is from her 1956 album In the Land Of Hifi. Often introduced as 'The Singing Rage, Miss Patti Page, she sold over 100 million records over a career spanning six decades
Released on his 2010 debut album Signs And Signifiers, this is a mellow breeze of a track compared with the rest of this brilliant record, referencing 1950s R&B, Rockabilly and rock and roll, inspired by Little Richard and Fats Domino, recorded as it was using vintage mics, old amplifiers and a Berlant reel-to-reel recorder from the '60s.
The title track from the dream team of composer Kats Chernin with Tamara-Anna Cislowska (on piano duties). This is an exciting album of “symphonious cascades” - dynamic yet minimalist pieces that recall the work of Philip Glass.
A change of tack now as we near the end of our week dedicated to new beginnings and the joy of spring. Inspired by Underworld, Orbital and Kraftwerk, Avery'sseminal dance album Drone Logic from 2013 featured this spacey analog synth masterpiece (if you like that sort of thing). This builds from nowhere into an epic electronic banger, heavy on the gritty beats and chords.
This is our first selection of Latin tracks for Music Seen and are a nod to New York in the 60s and 70s, a time where with enough talent and tenacity, epic international careers were achievable for young immigrants from latin America... if you could just avoid the trappings of fame and fortune.
This is one of our favourite dance tracks, let alone 'Latin' dance tracks! Ray Baretto was a Puerto Rican by descent but a native New Yorker. He hated the term 'Latin Jazz', and would prefer to use the term 'Jazz-Latin', inspired as he was by swing bands and artists such as Duke Ellington and Chick Webb, and importantly by the track Manteca by Dizzy Gillespie, which forged Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz. This fusion of styles ignited Barretto's love of the congas, and led to him playing with legends such as Tito Puente and Jose Curbelo. Sessions with Blue Note, Prestige and Riverside record labels followed, but it was when he joined Fania Records that his career skyrocketed.
Acid is a tumbao (a foundational, repetitive rhythmic pattern played on the bass) and was recorded in one take with the improvised instrumentation and solid groove causing mayhem on dance floors to this day!
Flamboyant and bohemian Domenican artist Frankie Dante's band were big on the New York underground salsa scene and remain favourites of fans of that period. This track describes how the Venezuelan dancers enjoyed dancing sabroso (savory) to his music.
Dante was a security guard at Macy’s, but he really wanted to be John Lennon,” says salsa superstar Larry Harlow who produced this recording. “He was the Dominican John Lennon... He wore those round rose-colored glasses, just like John Lennon.”
A debonair and handsome crooner, Feliciano was a huge star on the salsa scene in the 1970s. He recorded with top band leaders such as Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, and was a longtime member of The Fanias Allstars, the group organized by Fania Records which included virtually all the major figures of salsa’s ’70s heyday.
Feliciano started out as a percussionist with Tito Rodriguez and Luis Cruzand eventually found his voice working with Joe Cuba Sextet around the late 1950s and led to his playing with Eddie Palmieri. It was around this time that he also discovered drugs and became a heroin addict at aged 21. A stint in a rehab program in Puerto Ricofollowed which resulted in him getting clean and becoming a vehement anti-drug campaigner. It wasn't until 1971 that he released his first solo record which smashed all sales records for latin music at that time.
Born to Cuban and Puerto Rican parents, Perez was an American composer, violinist, pianist, bandleader and singer! This track is taken from his 1977 album"De Todo un Poco", the title track of which was used on the soundtrack to the hit movieDirty Dancingin 1987 which in turn led to his earlier albums becoming collectors' items.
One of the most charismatic and versatile artists of the era, pianist and vibraphonist Ramirez recorded this in 1978 at the height of the salsa scene in NYC. This song is a love letter to Puerto Rico and is performed by the great Adalberto Satiago, who until 1973 was the vocalist with Ray Barretto's orchestra.
Another Puerto Rican New Yorker, Lavoe or "La Voz" ("The Voice") had a stellar career spanning 3 decades.
Released on his second solo album De Ti Depende this record was supported by the great Willie Colon who for this album decided to try something new in Salsa, using the sound of violins (using keyboards) which was unheard of at the time. Possessing a big personality and stage presence, Lavoe sometimes resembled a stand up comedian. This willingness to joke with his audience backfired badly when on one occasion, an insulting refusal to play a certain track resulted in an onstage beating which nearly hospitalised him!
This week we celebrate the 63rd GRAMMY Awards ceremony. Taking place this Sunday March 14th, the hottest awards in music recognises recordings released between Sept. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31, 2020. We hope you enjoy tracks from some of CMP's legendary winners, past and present!
To launch our Grammy's selection we give you singer, songwriter, actress, activist and two-time GRAMMY winner Cyndi Lauper. She memorably performed Time After Time at the 27th Awards ceremony having won Best New Artist that year, having also won Song Of The Year for this epic 80s classic.
The title track from Lady gaga's fifth studio album from 2016, this is our favourite Gaga track and won Best Pop Solo Performance at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
Her album Golden Hour album won in all four of its nominated categories at the 61st Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Country Album. Golden Hour was ranked at 270 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. This is a beautiful country pop track melodically reminiscent of Joni Mitchell.
This classic won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Song and Song of the Year in 1968. South also wrote Rose Garden made famous by Lyn Anderson in 1970.
Second time on the Music Seen playlist but who can ignore the talent of Jacob Collier, here with a pretty faultless pop/R&B drop, featuring the support of superstars Mahalia dn Ty Solla $ign. Collier already has four Grammys to his name. Good luck this year Jacob!
With nine nominations and three wins, Concord artist Glasper is no stranger to Grammy success. This is one of our favourite records of the year so far. The sublime production and vocal deliveries on this haunting track from these two legendary singers never fails to deliver.
This week we celebrate International Women's Day with a collection of tracks that champion the female story in all it's diversity and power.
Flipping the backwards thinking 50s concept of a cover version, this belter of a track was originally a hit for writer John Fogerty and his band Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969, and nearly as successful for Ike and Tina in 1971. Their Rock and Roll rendition has one of the greatest slow builds of any record ever recorded!
Written from Morissette's brutally honest perspective, as a woman wanting to take control of the emotional journey of the relationship she was having with an older man. The album Jagged Little Pill released in 1995 was co-written with Glen Ballard who told Rolling Stone Magazine
"I just connected with her as a person, and, almost parenthetically, it was like 'Wow, you're 19?' She was so intelligent and ready to take a chance on doing something that might have no commercial application. Although there was some question about what she wanted to do musically, she knew what she didn't want to do, which was anything that wasn't authentic and from her heart."
This song is featured on the excellent compilation 7-inches for Planned Parenthood, with a progressive message for women, and which benefits the women's health organization. The album also features tracks by Feist, Arca, Mitski & St. Vincent.
Ranked number 26 in Rolling Stone magazine's 2008 list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, Janis is a firm Playlister favourite too. This Rogers and Hart classic (originally from the Broadway production of Jumbo) is a lamenting track in Joplin's hands and features on her excellent solo debut studio album I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, released just a year before her untimely death at age 27.
Brittney Denise Parks, better known as Sudan Archives is a classically trained violinist and singer/songwriter currently living in LA. Her seemingly effortless delivery and beautiful tone and lyrical skill make this a stand out track from 2020. The video is pretty wonderful too. We love Sudan Archives at Playlister HQ.
This Rogers and Hammerstein classic from the musical South Pacific is the original feminist anthem, sung from the perspective of the heroine of the story.
In the 1950s a 'Cover up' was a song recorded by a record label to eclipse the release of the same song by a rival label. Here's our selection of cover versions (or remakes as some music historians would rather they were known), that we feel in some way bring a fresh take on the original.
Flipping the backwards thinking 50s concept of a cover version, this belter of a track was originally a hit for writer John Fogerty and his band Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969, and nearly as successful for Ike and Tina in 1971. Their Rock and Roll rendition has one of the greatest slow builds of any record ever recorded!
Written in 1953 by Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn, this was a huge hit for Dinah Washington in 1954. Nancy Wilson's sultry version was used to great effect on the recent (and awesome) chess series The Queen's Gambit.
Apart from Miss Jones, Peggy Lee, Marcia Hines, Englebert Humperdink and Bing Crosby all released a version of this show tune (from a Chorus Line) in 1977! Grace's uptempo version was produced by Disco supremo Tom Moulton.
This was Public Image Ltd biggest hit @ number 5 in the UK charts. Nouvelle Vague famously invited female singers who had never heard the originals to record these tracks... and created an easy listening cover version phenomenon that none of us knew we needed back in the early 2000s!
The original is by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (who also wrote the lyrics to My Funny Valentine, Blue Moon, The Lady is a Tramp and Manhattan amongst many others). This version was recorded by the Supremes as their 11th studio album for Motown, following a TV special about Rodgers and Hart from 1966, where none other than the great Quincy Jones was musical director.
This song was a Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune from the musical South pacific. Dylan's version is a cover of a cover (!), as Dylan does Frank Sinatra, from his 2014 release Shadows in the Night.
Sophie Winder's joyous illustration promotes this week's theme of togetherness, duality and harmony, something all of our chosen acts have demonstrated this week in droves.
A star studded collaboration, with Robyn and Channel Tres's vocals adding something wonderful to newcomer (and Concord Music Publishing signing) SG lewis (and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs's) clubby production.
A trippy collab with an excellent number of dogs in the video! In the video (worth a google), the UK producer meets the ex Late Of The Pier frontman head to head, as they lay down in the park for some canine shenanigans and deliver a lovely dose of skippy synth pop.
First rate Aussy electronic producer enrols Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon to add some sunny sparkle to her brilliant bouncy party jam.
Crossbreed Records founder Kiwi teams up with Daniel Avery collaborator & James Greenwood AKA Ghost Culture,(Concord Music Publishing signing) for this minimal electronic instrumental with epic synth action.
The band had already recorded this track with a mumbling vocal, when they then heard Devin sing on Jamaican TV show Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, loved his delivery, wrote and sent him some lyrics and the result is the very special guest appearance.
Grammy award winning, Kendrick Lamar, Q-Tip, Herbie Hancock and Anderson.Paak collaborating Glasper, invites legendary singer/songwriter (and Playlister favourite) Jill Scott to partner up on this conscious and delicate song. This shoulda/coulda been in our Valentine's playlist... it's a rare and poignant love letter to a decent man!
Valentine's is a day we long for, or long to see the back of. Whatever your romantic inclination this year, here's 7 songs devoted to the notion of love.
A jazz standard with lyrics written by Englishmen Eric Maschwitz (under the alias Holt Marvel) with music by Jack Strachey. Maschwitz cited "fleeting memories of a young love" as inspiration for the song, although various women in the author's life have claimed ownership of this ode to love and memory.
Fuelled by coffee and vodka, the verse and three choruses were written by Maschwitz over one Sunday morning at his flat in London. The song has been covered by many of the greats with memorable versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, and was recorded 3 times by James Brown.
The infamous music video tells the tale of an acting teacher (Richie) having an unrequited love for a blind student (Laura Carrington) until he discovers she is sculpting a likeness of his head in clay, and maybe feels the same way! Richie's album Can't Slow Down which features this huge hit won the 1984 Grammy for Album of the Year, and is the biggest-selling album in the history of Motown Records.
Chosen today for obvious reasons, this jazz standard has been recorded by over 600 artists and appeared on over 1300 albums!
It became Chet Baker's signature song (he recorded it over 100 times) and we love this version the best.
It’s actually a love song written from the perspective of a woman to a man... his ‘figure’ is ‘less than Greek’ (i.e., not the Olympian ideal of masculine beauty) but with Baker's laconic drawl and wonderful delivery, this song transcends gender and just evokes a feeling of love.
Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don't change your hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is Valentines day
Written by George Harrison and widely viewed by music historians as having marked his ascendancy as a composer to the level of the Beatles' principal songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, this most romantic of the Beatles songs was written for Harrison's then wife Patti Boyd. In her 2007 biography she wrote "He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful."
Written and recorded between 1991 (when he was just 18 years old) and 1995, this neo-soul classic from the album of the same name made D'Angelo a star and a heartthrob to millions. Co-produced by such luminaries of the scene as Raphael Saadiq and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (of A Tribe Called Quest), the song personifies his love of smoking weed and compares it with his love of a woman.
Let me tell you 'bout this girl, maybe I shouldn't
I met her in Philly and her name was Brown Sugar
See we be makin' love constantly
That's why my eyes are a shade, blood burgundy
And whenever you let me hit it
Sweet like honey when it comes to me
Skin is caramel with the coco eyes
Even got a big sister by the name of Chocolate Ty"
Jacob's career is a thing of recent music industry legend; From uploading homemade split screen videos (incorporating his harmonisation and multi instrumentation skills) on youtube in 2011, to being signed by Quincy Jones, to opening for Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2015 at the age of 19, to beginning working on Djesse, a four-volume, 50-song album featuring more than two dozen artists and ensembles in 2018, and now nominated for Album of the Year at this year's Grammys as well as Best R&B performance and Best Arrangement, Instrument and Vocals for tracks from Djesse Vol. 3.This track premiered as part of one of his TED talks.
From classic R&B, Hip hop & grime, this is our first collection dedicated to rhyme.
Today is the 26th anniversary of the release on Def Jam Records of this debut single from Montell Jordan. Representative of the hip hop/soul style popular at the time, Jordan sings over an enhanced sample of Slick Rick's "Children's Story" which in turn samples Bob James' "Nautilus". The rap demonstrates some very old school lyrical tropes:
'This is how we do it, all hands are in the air
And wave them from here to there
If you're an OG mack or a wanna-be player
You see the hood's been good to me
Ever since I was a lower case G
But now I'm a big G
The girls see I got the money
Hundred dollar bills, y'all'
This track from DJ Shadow features verses from American rap duo Run the Jewels. The song was first a part of Run the Jewels' Record Store Day release, which was a virtual reality cardboard viewer that included a digital download code for the song. It also acted as the lead single from Shadow's fifth studio album, The Mountain Will Fall (2016).
Shadow chose El-P and Killer Mike as collaborators due to their vocal style fitting with the song's killer instrumental.
Lyrically this track veers between hilarious juvenilia and some dark imagery!:
'We the best
We will cut a frowny face in your chest, little wench
I'm unmentionably fresh, I'm a mensch, get correct
I will walk into a court while erect, screaming
"Yes! I am guilty motherfuckers, I am death"'
Stone Cold Rhymin' was the debut album by rapper Young MC and was released in 1989 on Delicious Vinyl. Young was born in London, to Jamaican immigrants and emigrated to NYC aged 8.
He earned a degree in economics from the University of Southern California where he met Michael Ross and Matt Dike from Delicious Vinyl. Young rapped over the phone for Ross and Dike, who ended up delivering a record contract to his college dorm room.
'Now I wrote this record for when I perform,
from the nights inside a university dorm,
I put pen to paper with a paper and pen,
for the times I'm rockin' the mic in front of women and men,
The song famously begins with the line "Don't call it a comeback/I've been here for years." Before "Mama Said Knock You Out" was released, critics felt that LL Cool J's career was waning. The story goes that his grandmother told him to "knock out" all his doubters!
She is featured in the closing scene of the music video, saying: "Todd! Todd! Get upstairs and take out that garbage.”:
West premiered this self-professed theme song from his album Yeezus on May 18, 2013 on Saturday Night Live. Featuring some stripped down production with the help of Rick Rubin, the lyrics to this track reference West's relationship with the media and his relationship with Kim Kardashian.'Enter the kingdomBut watch who you bring homeThey see a black man with a white womanAt the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong'
Formerly known as Common Sense, this rapper, writer, activist and actor has consistently written provocative, poetic and conscious lyrics for his tracks since his album debut in 1992.
Pray these words may hug you, baby
Look into the mirror and say "I love you" daily
Remember your light when the world seem shady
You're born with it, adorned with it
A gift to the world, go on, give it
As anyone who's ever enjoyed a nightclub looks to the moment we'll throw shapes together again, here's our first in a series of uptempo dance tracks from the Concord catalogue.
Despite Kanye's stage invasion during the presentation, this banger won MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video in 2006. The 2015 Zac Efron movie about an EDM DJ We Are Your Friends took its title from the track.
Written in 1998 and first released as a single in November 2000 and later included in their 2001 album Discovery, this was a commercial success as well as a critical hit. Rolling Stone listed it at number 33 of their top 100 songs of the decade (2000–2009) as well as number 307 on its amended "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list in May 2010.
Described by critics as an "indie anthem", the song was not initially a huge success in Australia where the band originate from, but it fared better in Japan and Europe. It generated fresh interest after it was included in the soundtrack for the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer—eventually reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the United States.
Created by electronic musician Quentin Dupieux better known as Mr. Oizo, Flat Eric began life as a character in some short films and gained a cult following in the UK and France. His popularity (and the love of this dance track) soared when Levi's featured Flat Eric in an ad for Sta-Press clothing in 1999. In 2003, Q Magazine ranked "Flat Beat" at number 175 in their list of the "1001 Best Songs Ever."
Written by Henry Smithson (better known as Riton) and featuring vocals from Nigerian singer-songwriter Kah-Lo, this club/pop crossover was up for Best Dance Recording at the 59th Grammy awards.
Having previously remixed Depeche Mode, Dua Lipa and Gorillaz between them, these are producers who know what works on a dancefloor, inside out and upside down. This club cut was released in December 2020 on Anjunadeep.
Music that describes the complexities of human emotions and relationships.
This track is dedicated to Syd Barret, and was based on a poem that Roger Waters wrote about Syd Barrett’s drift away from reality. A love song to a fallen friend.
Perhaps written from the perspective of someone wanting to take a friendship to the next level, this classic song expresses that aching feeling of the uncertainty of love.
An ode to bad relationships! Loving a bad guy is such a sin, yeah! He's got me all won, can I get him?
A song about how everyone is imperfect... how perhaps sometimes we must admit our faults and be honest, to hold on to the relationships that mean the most to us."I never wanted you to see this part of meI wish you would've told the truth. Oh, than make us settle, "Cause even when it's wrong, you'll see that it's what you need."
Always On My Mind is a heartfelt ballad completed in 1971 by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James. It was voted the number-one song of Elvis Presley's recording career in a 2013 poll and Willie Nelson's beautiful version won 3 Grammys in 1982. A song of yearning; of mistakes made to a lost love.
This song was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, in collaboration with Lori Leiberman after she was inspired by a Don Maclean concert in 1971.Its lyrics take the perspective of a singer being emotionally floored by another singer's delivery of a song. This version won a Grammy for the band in 1997.
To celebrate Martin Luther King day 2021 (Jan18th) we’ve chosen songs of protest, freedom and positivity.
Revival Written in 1969 in protest to the Vietnam War, the song references rich people who orchestrate wars and then draft poor to fight in them. The track features in many movies and montages about the war, most famously Apocalypse Now.
Regularly featuring on Barack Obama's 2008 campaign playlist, and sampled on EPMD's 1990 track Give The People, this track's lyrics feel as poignant now as they must of then.
Used in movies Pineapple Express and Slumdog Millionaire and co-written by Diplo, this track was inspired by Mathangi Arulpragasam's struggle with homeland security when trying to enter the US. It plays on the image of a threatening, violent illegal immigrant and was banned in some clubs and TV shows for the use of gunshot sound effects.
Lyrics 'So where you gonna be when this freedom comes?' To celebrate Martin Luther King day we've chosen a track with a title relevant to his message and the movement he inspired, as important today as it was in the 60s.This track was released in October last year as part of the album Portals, and recorded by the artists whilst on a month-long retreat at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios.
An uplifting message of positivity from everyone's favourite choir-robe-wearing 20+ piece band!The band formed in 2000 and first came to the UK as part of David Bowie's Meltdown festival in 2002. This song is the most used in UK advertising, and has featured in movies and TV shows including Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind, The Lorax and Scrubs as well as being performed live at the Oscar De La Renta 2008 catwalk show in NYC.Lyric: 'Follow the day and reach for the sun!' 'Reach for the bright side!'
A protest against police brutality and systematic oppression for black people in the US. It's been featured in multiple movies and TV shows such as La Haine, Attack The Block and Brooklyn 99, and samples Sing a Simple Song by Sly and The Family Stone, and Inside Looking Out by Grand Funk Railroad.
7 songs of love and blues, dreams of people and places, imagined and real.
Dearie's love letter to the city she called home. Dearie's voice and songs have been heard on many tv shows and movies including The Artist, The Squid and the Whale and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Her vocal style was described by the New Yorker as a "childish treble" yet she brushed off these criticisms. "I have never been a singer who could stand up and sing like a theatrical singer. I sit down, and I've always used a microphone. I have a kind of microphone technique.”
Written by Big Bill Broonzy this version was recorded by Witherspoon for his 1963 album Blues Around The Clock. Lyrics: "Oh I just lay awake and dream, people, About that place, way across the sea, oh yea. Where I was raised, where I was born, Place that means so much to me."
Written by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky for the 1955 movie Love Me Or Leave Me and sung by Doris Day, this track has been covered by many artists over the years including Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and Dinah Washington. It was also used in the popular UK tv show The Saint starring Roger Moore in the episode The Saint Sees It Through. Jamal's sublime instrumental version was from his album Happy Moods released in 1960 on the Argo label.
Written and produced by Frank Ocean and Daniel Aged and released as a 7-inch single on March 25, 2020, Dear April consists of an "acoustic" version as side A, and a remix by Justice as side B. An intimate track with minimal instrumentation and a beautiful vocal treatment.
Lyrics: "I believe that no matter
What it makes us new
Take us through it
And wake us up again"
Lyrics: "Go on, fill your heart up with gladness" A founding member of Portico Quartet, Mulvey has enjoyed a successful solo career since 2011. As the title track to his 2014 EP, Fever to the Form is a fine example of a distinctly British type of uplifting and positive modern folk music.
Critic Richie Unterberger describes it as "as close to the roots of acoustic down-home blues as the Stones ever got."
It was released on their 1969 album Let It Bleed.
Written and recorded by Robert Johnson in 1937, the song uses a departing train as a metaphor for the loss of his lover Willie Mae.
Taking inspiration from the dawn of a precious new year following a pretty terrible 2020, we present songs from the Concord catalogue which evoke a feeling of positivity and hope, and most importantly, new beginnings.
One of our favourite all-time classics and positive lyrics from the Concord Music Publishing Catalogue to kick of Music Seen for 2021. "Little darling, the smile's returning to their faces". Onwards and upwards!
Lee was nominated for 12 Grammy Awards in her lifetime. This song is an uplifting masterpiece that does exactly what it says on the tin.
A part of the native tongues collective, known for their like-minded Afrocentrism, positivity and eclectic sampling, it was NME's review that stated "This is not rap, this is perfection."
"I think it's so groovy now, that people are finally getting together". It goes without saying that this is a lyrical message we're all dreaming about in some shape, way or form'
This song is described by James as being about "after a certain amount of time, somebody becomes too precious to lose, and now you want to protect them in any way you can," referring to his girlfriend Jameela Jamil.
Today is the 63rd anniversary of Come Fly with Me, One of Frank Sinatra's most beloved hit songs.