Contemporary Dance

Baby I-Ariana Grande


I have loved Ariana Grande’s voice since I first heard her sing “The Way” three short years ago. There is no doubt that she has astonishing vocal technique and reminds everybody of a young Mariah Carey. But there is something fresh and exciting about every song Ariana sings. Her videos are alway upbeat, with her showing off her dimples, and proving beyond a doubt that there are an amazing amount of great hip-hop dancers in L.A.

“Baby I” brings her to a new level, by actually adding a genuine jazz-infused, Earth, Wind & Fire orchestration. The way she sings over, around and through these deceivingly complicated chords is extraordinary. And the ease with which she manipulates her voice to reach incredible heights is so effortless, that I am convinced she’s easily got the best voice I’ve heard since a 19 year old Whitney Houston.  

Plus, it’s a great dance song, and a blast for a band to play:
Enjoy

Baby I got love for thee so deep inside of me I don’t know where to start
I love you more than anything but the words can’t even touch what’s in my heart
When I try to explain it I be sounding insane the words don’t ever come out right
I get all tongue tied and twisted) I can’t explain what I’m feeling And I say baby, baby
Baby (baby I)
Oh baby, oh baby, my baby (Baby I)
Oh baby, baby I (baby I)
All I’m tryna say is you’re my everything baby
But every time I try to say it words they only complicate it
Baby, baby (Ooh oh)
This is a great pop song in it’s purest sense. It actually brings comparison to Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be.” But I guess I’m not the only Ariana Grande fan around. The video above has had over 127 million views as of today.
Let me know what you think,

On My Mind-Ellie Goulding

British Pop singer Ellie Goulding (pronounced Gold-ing) has become an international sensation with her third album “Delirium.” The beat of “On My Mind” is completely infectious and never fails to pack any dance floor. After listening to this song for the first time, I couldn’t stop singing “cause I got you on my mind” for days.

Ellie Goulding

At the same time that I instantly fell in love with this song, I couldn’t help but think how influenced it was by The Police. Starting with the incredibly familiar quasi-reggae guitar opening,try singing “Message In A Bottle” along with “On My Mind.” The two are shockingly similar. However, if you’re going to steal from anyone, you might as well steal from the best. But then again, as the beloved Pharrell Williams recently found out, there are definitely “blurred lines” between an homage and a lawsuit. Just sayin’.

Wake Me Up-Avici

There’s something oddly catchy about this song. It starts out with a lazy guitar riff, and sounds like the beginning of a country song. But it gains momentum and by the time you hit the chorus, “So wake me up when it’s all over….”, you’re hooked. And as with any song we use at a wedding or any other party, everybody can sing along. The song really works. Check it out. It’s a really fun song.

What Do You Mean-Justin Bieber

I suppose that it’s time to acknowledge the existence of Justin Bieber as a legitimately solid force in contemporary music. The cover of the March 2016 issue of GQ pronounces “LET US NOW FORGIVE JUSTIN BIEBER.” His song “Sorry” is the first of twenty-five listed on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story titled “25 SONGS THAT TELL US WHERE MUSIC IS GOING.” The kid is getting harder and harder to ignore. After being discovered singing covers on YouTube, he started a bidding war between Usher and Justin Timberlake over signing this once unmoored but ever-blonde, sweet-voiced (with the face to match) teenager to a label. He really does have a terrific voice, despite spending more time being the lead story on TMZ, intent on fostering his partying, wannabe gangsta’, tattooed bad-boy image than he does in being thought of as a serious artist. But I’m here to praise “The Biebs”… not to bury him.

So… “What Do You Mean?” is a really great, thoroughly pure pop song. So is “Sorry.”  And so is “Where Are U Now”the first three releases off only his third studio album.. It’s no longer an embarrassment to say you enjoy Justin Bieber’s music. Things could be a lot worse. He hasn’t shaven his head like Brittany Spears, or become a complete career-destroying cautionary tale, like Lindsay Lohan. 

If being annoying is the worst thing you can say about him, I’ll give him a pass. The kid from Stratford, Ontario has a great look (he’s actually pretty in that compelling androgynous way) and is acknowledged as a legitimate global sensation. Born in 1994,he won the AMA for Artist of the Year at the age of 16, and did it again two years later, at 18. In 2016, he just won his first Grammy, for Best Dance Recording – “Where Are U Now.”

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While I can’t say I’m a total, true “Belieber” quite yet, I say it’s time to give the kid a chance. I must admit, the first time I really paid attention to him, and genuinely started to like him, was on his two “Carpool Karaoke” appearances with James Corden (who has an uncanny ability to make any performer seem like his best friend.)

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
-Doug

Vivir Mi Vida-Marc Anthony

I have always loved Salsa music. There is so much soul invested in the unique percussion rhythms, the powerful horns, and the stylistic joy that makes “Salsa” almost impossible not to dance to. Even though the only two Spanish words I know are “hola,” and coño, which is a source of embarrassment since I found out what “coño” actually means, although having a good curse word or two can be pretty handy.

I had my band learn the song in its original Spanish and have played it at four weddings so far. I’m pretty sure none of the guests knew the song, but the dance floor was packed within seconds of hearing this incredible beat.

I promise you don’t have to understand a world of Spanish to love Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida.” If this is the first time you’re hearing Salsa,,,Bienvenidos Amigos!

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Vivir Mi Vida
Voy a reír, voy a bailar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
Voy a reír, voy a gozar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
 
A veces llega la lluvia
para limpiar las heridas
A veces sólo una gota
puede vencer la sequía
 
Y para qué llorar, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si duele una pena, se olvida
Y para qué sufrir, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si así es la vida, hay que vivirla
 
Voy a reír, voy a bailar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
Voy a reír, voy a gozar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
 
Voy a vivir el momento
para entender el destino
Voy a escuchar en silencio
para encontrar el camino
 
Y para qué llorar, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si duele una pena, se olvida
Y para qué sufrir, ¿Pa’ qué?
Si duele una pena, se olvida
 
Voy a reír, voy a bailar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
Voy a reír, voy a gozar
vivir mi vida, la, la, la, la
Leave a comment, or a request for me to review.
-Doug

Sway-Pussycat Dolls

I must admit that movies like “Shall We Dance,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere are right on top of my cinematic “guilty pleasures” In the same vein as Channing & Jenna DeWan’s “Step Up” and Antonio Banderas’ “Take The Lead.” Coincidentally, Jenna DeWan co-starred in “Take The Lead” as one of Antonio’s students.

The actual music in most of these “dance” movies is usually irrelevant, needing only to have a great beat to accompany the dancing. But the terrific arrangement of the song “Sway” in “Shall We Dance” stayed with me. “Sway” turned out to be a Spanish song, written by two Mexican composers and first recorded in English by Dean Martin in 1954. It’s been recorded as a jazz instrumental many times, and revived as a vocal by Michael Buble in 2003, then The Pussycat Dolls in 2004 for the movie. It’s the percussive mambo beat, and the extraordinary horn arrangement that make this the ultimate arrangement for me.

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This past weekend, we played a wedding in which we brought an additional vocalist who happened to know this exact arrangement. I wrote it out for the band and it was a huge hit. I’ll be adding more and more Spanish songs to our repertoire.

The most surprising thing is that “Sway” was sung by The Pussycat Dolls who I thought were nothing more than a sexy/beautiful Las Vegas showgirl act. It turns out that they were indeed thrown together as a tightly choreographed  “lounge act” until they started recording with A & M Records. Selling over 56 million albums from 2003-2009, they remain one of the most successful “girl-groups” of all time. Who knew?

Leave a comment to let me know how you feel about either my “guilty pleasure” dance movies, or The Pussycat Dolls.

 

 

Can’t Stop The Feeling-J.T.

Justin Timberlake has a new feel-good dance hit. “Can’t Stop The Feeling.” I think Justin Timberlake is exactly what’s right about pop music. The man can do no wrong. The only person I can compare him to is Jennifer Lawrence. The man can do no wrong. At 36, he’s won nine Grammy Awards and 4 Primetime Emmy Awards. He’s won four PrimeTime Emmys for hosting and singing on “Saturday Night Live.”

Jennifer Lawrence, has been nominated for four Academy Awards in five years…winning one.  For those same four movies, she won three Golden Globes, and was nominated for the fourth. Let’s not forget starring four “Hunger Games,” and three “X-Men” movies Did I mention that she’s 26 years old, and that every talk show or red-carpet event makes front page news.

The most important thing they share is an innate joy at whatever it is they chose to do.  But let’s stick with Timberlake for now. He was the lead singer of the 90s boy band NSYNC, which sold over 50 million records from 1995-2002. In 2002, he started recording as a solo artist. In that 14 year period he sold more than 20 million albums from only three studio albums. The man simply can do no wrong. In that same period, he starred in half a dozen movies including “The Social Network” and “Friends With Benefits.”

“Can’t Stop The Feeling,” is JT’s first single in three years which would be a lifetime in most artists careers. Not Justin. It’s just great to have you back, JT, doing what you do best. The lyrics seem straight from the pen of his sometime producer Pharrell Williams. They’re simple, firstly because he wrote it as the Executive Music Producer for a soon-to-be released animated feature, “Trolls.”  Check out the lyrics.

I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good song in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
You gon’ like the way we rock it, so don’t stop
Under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I’m getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine
Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I should do to you
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain’t nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
Can’t stop the feeling…..

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Welcome back JT.

 

Cheerleader-OMI

“Cheerleader” is a terrific Calypso-style song by the artist  Omar Samuel Pasley, whose nickname is Omi. Te song always manages to get people up dancing at every party, and makes my trumpet player extremely happy. It’s actually rare to hear a solo trumpet part running throughout an entire song. It’s a very simple song, relying almost exclusively on it’s percussion-infused Caribbean beat. Most guests are unsure exactly how to dance to “Cheerleader,” but it’s hard to hear it, and not at least be captured by its infectious groove.

The lyrics, unsurprisingly, are trite, and more than a little bit objectifying of woman. But like so many dance songs on this blog, the lyrics are fairly inconsequential. They become a lot more obvious and sexist when you watch the video. But what the hell. It’s really a fun song to play, and gratifying to watch people enjoy dancing to. Here are some of the lyrics.

When I need motivation
My one solution is my queen
‘Cause she stays strong, yeah yeah

She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say, do you need me?
Do you think I’m pretty?
Do I make you feel like cheating?
I’m like no, not really ’cause
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her
Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

She walks like a model, she grants my wishes
Like a genie in a bottle. Yeah, yeah
‘Cause I’m the wizard of love
And I got the magic wand
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone.

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“Cheerleader” really is a fun dance song. Get up and dance.
Leave a comment to let me know how you feel.

Moves Like Jagger-Maroon 5

Moves Like Jagger is one of our “go-to” dance hits since it debuted five years ago, in 2011.  I just love this song. It’s got the synthesized whistling and a GREAT guitar groove. And Christina Aguilera!  I really can’t say enough about my appreciation of Adam Levine as a vocalist, as a performer, and most importantly, as a band member. I can’t name a single member of Maroon 5 with the exception of Levine who has enjoyed “rock star” status as a solo artist, like the rest of his “judges” on “The Voice.” 

I’m pretty sure no one can name any other member of the band either. Diana Ross left the Supremes, Michael left The Jackson 5, Beyonce left Destiny’s Child, Lionel Richie left The Commodores, you get the pointThis is a logical progression for lead vocalists. I find it fascinating and incredibly loyal of Mr, Levine to keep the same band members who have been with him since high school. That’s rare.

There are barely any background harmonies. Maroon 5 is the Adam Levine show. But, as I said above, it speaks volumes about Mr. Levine, he has stayed true to his school, with guitarist Jesse Charmicael and bassist Mickey Madden. from that original group. The only member of the original four piece high school “garage band” not currently with the band is the drummer Ryan Dusick, who had to leave because of wrist and shoulder problems. They replaced Dusick, and have remained together as a group since 1994, 15 years before Moves Like Jagger. I’ve long admired Maroon 5 as a band. I used to see them as the “opening act” for John Mayer every year. That shows you how hard it is to maintain not only getting to the top, but staying there. I want to praise Mr. Levine for his talent and loyalty, and I eagerly await their next album

But for now, the band’s two biggest hits have been Sugar and Moves Like Jagger. The official video released with this song is too embarrassing to put up. Trust me. It’s a bunch of people essentially doing the “chicken dance” doing terrible imitations of Mick Jagger.  To me, it just seems like a song about “feeling cool”.Here are some of the lyrics to Moves Like Jagger.  

Just shoot for the stars if it feels right and aim for my heart if you feel like it
Take me away and make it okay, I swear I’ll behave
You wanted control so we waited, I put on a show now we’re naked
You say I’m a kid my ego is big, I don’t give a shit and it goes like this
Take me by the tongue and I’ll know you
Kiss me ’til you’re drunk and I’ll show you all the moves like Jagger
I’ve got the moves like Jagger 
I’ve got the moves like Jagger
I don’t need to try to control you
Look into my eyes and I’ll own you with them moves like Jagger
I’ve got the moves like Jagger. 
I’ve got the moves like Jagger
Let me know what you think.
Doug