Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-10-07
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


Pop Making Sense
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by David Byrne

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

For me, 2012 will be remembered as the year that Whitney Houston and Donna Summer passed away. Favorites returned with new material and newcomers showed promise while radio overplayed the same songs. Let's hope "Gangnam Style" will fizzle out of our consciences shortly, just as "Macarena" did about 16 years ago.

There were many great albums in 2012, including those by Bettye LaVette, Heart, Jinx Titanic and the Ladykillers, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Neon Trees and School of Seven Bells. But the one that remains my favorite throughout the year is Joan Osborne's Grammy-nominated Bring It on Home. Here, the "One of Us" singer seamlessly remakes blues and soul classics like Ray Charles's "I Don't Need No Doctor" and Otis Redding's "Champagne and Wine." The other top contenders are Ruthie Foster's folk meets blues outing Let It Burn and Meshell Ndegeocello's tribute to Nina Simone, Pour une Ame Souveraine.

Graffiti6 and Dead Sara both had promising debuts. The former toured heavily to promote Colours, while the latter performed at Riot Fest and on JBTV before being selected as Muse's upcoming opening band.

Once again, Chicago hosted many wonderful concerts. Madonna impressed me with her MDNA Tour. I caught Prince on the best night of his three-show run in Chicago. Garbage rocked the house at its sold-out date at The Metro. But I favored the more intimate performances by LaVette, Osborne, Ndegeocello and Foster. The one that rises above the others complete with storytelling, vocal talent, terrific material and humility is British newcomer Emeli Sande, who released her debut, Our Version of Events. How I wish I was able to see Minogue's limited Anti Tour and Bananarama's trek that raised awareness for breast cancer.

Last year, I saw three stage productions that were absolutely fantastic. Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein have a hit on their hands with the Broadway-bound Kinky Boots by blending memorable tunes with a fantastic set, loveable characters and a talented cast. The Black Ensemble Theater had a superb production about a singing competition that salutes R&B's divas with One Name Only. While at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, I saw The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith. This unforgettable four-person piece easily could translate onto the silver screen with Queen Latifah in the titular role.

The toughest challenge is selecting the year's best cover. There are so many notable remakes, such as Chromatics reworking of Neil Young's "(Hey Hey My My) Into the Black," Friend Slash Lover's take on XTC's "Dear God," LaVette's rendition of Gnarls Barkley's smash "Crazy," Macy Gray's futuristic spin on "Here Comes the Rain Again" by Eurythmics, Foster's remake of John Martyn's "Don't Want to Know" and Sinead O'Connor's version of "Queen of Denmark" by out artist John Grant. Ndegeocello trumps them all with her homage to the high priestess of soul, Pour une Ame Souveraine, which features Simone's signature "Feeling Good," the haunting "Either Way I Lose" and the seductive "Turn Me On."

Indie artists Angela McCluskey, Bananarama and Gliss released noteworthy EPs, but my favorite is The Grey Area by Friend Slash Lover. This six-track effort has the dreamy "Carry Your Weight" and the upbeat guitar-driven "As Seen on TV" and "S2PD HMN." The Grey Area is a perfect successor to the L.A.-based band's previous EP As American As Ones and Zeros.

Yes, bands still make music videos. The year's best is "Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees. Here, the camp clip has zombies preying at a drive-in theater, a nod to Psycho Beach Party. Other notable videos include Boy George's "Video Games," Ellie Goulding's ethereal "Anything Could Happen," Friend Slash Lover's "Unaware" that is filmed on an iPhone and Kylie Minogue's simple yet sensual "Flower."

The year's best remixes belong to Vanessa Daou. The sultry singer-songwriter culminated already existing remixes with new ones to make up the sensational Speak/Easy: The Moonshine Mixes (Joe Sent Me Revisited). These reinterpretations add a new perspective and depth to her opus Joe Sent Me. As a bonus, not all of these remixes are designed for the dancefloor.

Pnau found magic once Sir Elton John allowed the Australian duo to delve into his catalog. Here, Pnau samples the diva's vintage songs to come up with clever creations. The masterpiece from this outstanding collaboration is the uplifting "Good Morning to the Night."

The comeback of the year belongs to Garbage. After a timeout, the band returned in fine form with Not Your Kind of People and a tour loaded with hits.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound is the band I am most proud of. This local group was the sole focus on an entire episode of JBTV and had high-profile hometown shows the night before Thanksgiving and on New Year's Eve.

This year produced many hits I never want to hear again including fun.'s "We Are Young," Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know" and Psy's "Gangnam Style." But the worst song of the year is "Scream & Shout" by Will.I.Am featuring Britney Spears. Just a tip to the multi-platinum producer: If you are working with a singer with minimal talent, don't enhance this by making her sound bored. I also am pretending that Mariah Carey never released the teaser track "Triumphant."

Somehow, I never grew tired of the unavoidable pop phenomenon "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jespen or its heartwarming videos on YouTube by various sport teams. Let's just see how I feel about this song sometime this year.

Tony Peregrin contributing

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Upcoming: Steinem; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Miley Cyrus; Halloween 2015-10-07
BOOKS Read this! Chatting with 'I Hope My Mother...' author Greg Scarnici 2015-10-07
Entertainment: Tom & Dustin; Grace Jones; Bette Midler; Matt Bomer 2015-10-06
CONCERTS Madonna's show has 'Heart' 2015-10-06
Dancing About Architecture 2015-09-30
Upcoming: Health symposium; Open Books; Lynch; Martin, Short; CrossTown; PrEP talk 2015-09-30
BENT NIGHTS Willie Nelson 2015-09-29
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Fans are jazzed about Lili K 2015-09-29
Entertainment news: Gaga; Ian McKellen; Ruby Rose; Matt Damon 2015-09-29
Chicago Humanities Fest presents Four Women: Josephine, Eartha, Nina and Tina 2015-09-24
Upcoming: AIDS Run & Walk; Branden James; a-ha; Halloween 2015-09-23
Entertainment: 'EastSiders'; Gio Benitez; 'About Ray'; Cher 2015-09-23
David Bowie box set out Sept. 25 2015-09-23
1985 MUSIC 2015-09-23
Harris Theater: World premiere with Renee Fleming, Patricia Barber 2015-09-22
BENT NIGHTS Riot Fest 2015 2015-09-20
Dancing About Architecture 2015-09-16
Upcoming: Museum Day; leather event; Armatrading; Cho 2015-09-16
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC The sun is shining on DJ Morgan Page 2015-09-15
MUSIC Branden James talks new EP, coming out on TV 2015-09-15
Nightlife photos: Northcoast Music Fest, Phoenix, The Glenwood 2015-09-09
Upcoming events in music, discussion, celebrity auction 2015-09-09
MUSIC Legendary jazz artist plays and shares his life 2015-09-09
NUNN ON ONE Rita Moreno talks new CD and even serenades 2015-09-09
Shemekia Copeland CD out Sept. 11 2015-09-09
'Black and Brown' celebrates racial, sexual minorities 2015-09-07
Chicago Opera Theater gets largest single gift 2015-09-02
Chicago trans residents Davis and Brady part of MTV VMAs 2015-09-02
Dancing About Architecture 2015-09-02
Petterino's celebrates 8th anniversary of Monday Night Live Sept. 14 2015-09-01
Upcoming events in politics, parties, health, art, music 2015-09-01
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Leona Lewis on U.S. market, new CD and drag queens 2015-09-01
MUSIC Singer Greg Holden talks 'American Idol,' 'Boys in the Street' 2015-09-01
Entertainment: Ricky Martin; Marc Jacobs; Maria Bello; Timberlake 2015-09-01
Upcoming: Sondheim honored; Play marks 10th Katrina anniversary 2015-08-26
Entertainment: Josh Hutcherson; 'Atlanta'; Zachary Quinto; Adam Lambert 2015-08-25
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC How Swede it is: Talking with singer Tove Lo 2015-08-25
BENT NIGHTS Coin; Ezra Furman 2015-08-25
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE Annual September collection 2015-08-19
Upcoming in local art, music, sports 2015-08-19

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.