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’.

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

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.

 

 

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

Honey I’m Good-Andy Grammer

 

 

Go figure.  A song about the virtues of  fidelity!   You know, that works at a wedding!  It  has a “feel-good, be-good” optimism — just look at the couples in the song’s video.

“Honey I’m Good” by Andy Grammer was released in 2014 and was an immediate hit. Ignore the fact that this song has an incredibly similar “feel” to the unfortunate novelty song “Cotton Eye Joe”.  What separates the two songs is the cleverness of Andy Grammer’s lyrics. The story he told on “The Today Show” was that he had just gotten married, and was about to go on tour to support his new album. With all the temptations of women on the road, he composed the lyrics “I could have another but I probably should not, I got somebody at home.” The rest of the song is filled with similar reasons to say “no” to groupies on the road. So instead of being a dumb country “Cotton Eye Joe” rip-off, it’s an incredibly catchy anthem of remembering your marriage vows. The video itself, very subtly shows couple after couple holding up numbers, presumably representing the number of years they’ve been together as a couple, while singing along to the song. It works wonders on the dance floor. It’s a surefire winner for wedding crowds. Here are the lyrics.

Nah nah honey, I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I got somebody at home 
It’s been a long night here, and a long night there
And these long long legs are damn near everywhere
(hold up now) You look good, I will not lie
But if you ask where I’m staying tonight
I gotta be like ah, baby, nah, baby, you got me all wrong, baby
My baby’s already got all of my love
So nah nah honey I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I got somebody at home, and if I stay I might not leave alone
No, honey, I’m good.  I could have another but I probably should not
I gotta bid you adieu to another I will stay true (ooh ooh I will stay true)images
Now better men, than me have failed, drinking from that unholy grail
I got her, and she got me, and you’ve got that ass, but I kindly
Gotta be like ah, baby, nah, baby, you got me all wrong, baby
My baby’s already got all of my love. So nah nah honey, I’m good…..

 

 

I love the a capella introduction with nothing but vocals and handclaps. For a simplistic :tongue-in-cheek “throwaway” song, it’s lasted quite nicely for the past three years, It’s a definite dance-floor filler. Check it out and leave me a comment.

Born This Way-Lady Gaga


Watching and listening toBorn The Way” by Lady Gaga, it’s hard to figure out if it’s a tribute to Madonna’s 1989 hit “Respect Yourself” or a blatant ripoff. With the exception of speeding up the tempo, it’s pretty much the same song. You can actually sing the lyrics “don’t go for second best baby, put your love to the test” during the verse of “Born This Way.”
Even the comparison of the two videos is really similar. However, to me Madonna and Lady Gaga are basically the same person (give or take 30 years or so.) They are both masters of self-promotion. They are both ‘Children of Cher” when it comes to wacky costumes and over-the-top videos used to disguise mediocre songs and less-than-mediocre talent. Or so I thought…

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Lady Gaga, as a performance artist in the vein of Madonna, has something Madonna or Cher will never have…balls. The woman is fearless. She wore her hair down, and sang a jaw-dropping, quasi-operatic tribute to Julie Andrews’ songs in The Sound Of Music during the 2015 Academy Awards, and has made several recordings with the universally beloved Tony Bennett. The results are at best, mixed. But she’s not afraid to at least try for mainstream legitimacy. But, be that as it may, this particular song is a great dance song to play at parties. I never quite got the whole wacky self-promotional antics of people like Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga, or even Britney Spears. I’d add Michael Jackson and Prince, but only with the caveat that they were/are both straight-up musical geniuses.

Anyway, enjoy Born This Way, have fun dancing to it.  and leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Sugar-Maroon 5

This delicious song,  as smooth as a slice of wedding cheesecake,  has already become a “contemporary classic” for weddings.  It’s relentlessly catchy and upbeat, and the rhythm begs you to get up and start dancing.  And though the lyrics are a bit plaintive, the effect is wedding-joyful and entirely happy.  As Adam Levine and Maroon 5 visit “every wedding in LA today”, (Adam announces that intention before they start piling into the car) it may, for some, set up the expectation that Adam Levine and Maroon 5 will show up with us at your wedding. Gotta be honest; I actually haven’t heard from him in a long time! Still, it’s simply the perfect dance song, especially for weddings. The song has amazing harmonies, as well as an incredibly strong Chorus that’s sung by the whole band in unison, making it that much more powerful.
The video is genuinely fun, as the band actually shows up, unexpectedly, at random weddings. What could be better for those of us who do this for a living? Thanks to Adam and the boys.

Here are the lyrics to sing along:
I’m hurting, baby, I’m broken down
I need your loving, loving I need it now
When I’m without you I’m something weak
You got me begging, begging I’m on my knees

I don’t wanna be needing your love
I just wanna be deep in your love
And it’s killing me when you’re away, (ooh, baby)
‘Cause I really don’t care where you are
I just wanna be there where you are
And I gotta get one little taste
Your sugar, Yes, please. Won’t you come and put it down on me?
I’m right here, ’cause I need a little love, a little sympathy
Yeah, you show me good loving, make it alright need a little sweetness in my life
Your sugar, yes, please. won’t you come and put it down on me?

My broken pieces, you pick them up
Don’t leave me hanging, hanging,come give me some
When I’m without ya, so insecure
You are the one thing, one thing I’m living for

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Sugar!  It’s just a fantastic dance song. What a great, truly gratifying song for those of us whose do this for a living. Thanks for the tuxedoed homage, fellas.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this song for your wedding !