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Friday, April 13, 2012

Divas, Djs, Buddy & Billboard

By and large, the Billboard dance chart and I frequently part company when it comes to top tunes, though there are some things on my turntables that also make it on that chart.

Hey, I'm a populist! Give the people what they want, I concur. But, also, I believe a dj's set should expose people to new music, to help shape tastes and mix things up. Contemporary chart music, underexposed club productions and disco classics can all live in harmony. I think it excites a crowd to hear the unexpected, the fresh, the new and exciting when they're out to dance. Nobody hits the dance floor if he or she is uninspired (unless pleasing a date; Buddy B knows all too well) or gagging on a Billboard hit for the umpteenth time. Throw in a little retro, embellish with some camp, include plenty of uplift in the melody and the messages, give good diva drama, et voila!

So let's begin with a peek at Billboard's top club hits. Billboard says it's "compiled from reports from a national sample of club DJs." But does anyone know who these dj's are exactly?  I'm just going to address the songs from the chart that I, as a dj, like and play. It will prove painlessly brief:

Despite Madonna's record drop in album sales of MDNA, her club-friendly "Girl Gone Wild" is sitting pretty in first place as "Give Me All Your Luvin'" drops, still comfortably entrenched in the 10th spot. That song already ascended to #1 two weeks ago and has made a meteoric rise and fall in just eight weeks.

Melanie Amaro's cover of "Respect" is at 3; Katy Perry's "Part of Me" is one of this week's Greatest Gainers at #6, followed by "Love on Top" by Beyonce, having already topped the chart.

The always welcome Debby Holiday's new one, "Never Give Up," floats like a butterfly to #16; Yoko Ono gets down to #18 with "She Gets Down on Her Knees." And, beyond that, I'm afraid, is where Billboard and I part company.

My divas, oh my divas! I do love my divas. They are almost everything to me in terms of putting across the emotional elements of a song that help make it be exciting. So against diva-wannabe drama in real life, I say save drama for the stage, movie, tv or the disco, where it belongs.

Unlikely, at this point, to make it onto Billboard's top 25 club songs, is Gladys Knight's return to dance floors with her cover of "I Who Have Nothing." This classic tune was composed by Carlo Donida with English lyrics written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and originally recorded by Ben E. King in 1963. Sylvester previously did a disco version of it, and now it's Gladys whose distinctive voice helps make this newly exciting to club-goers. Best remix is by Tony Moran/Warren Rigg. And, truly, Nicki Minaj's pathetic "Starships" beat this on the US dance/club chart? Pshaw!

It was Tony Moran, also, who produced a number that is an instant club classic, in my estimation, though it didn't chart the way I thought it would. "Magic," a true diva thrill-ride sung by none other than Jennifer Holliday, was indeed club magic. Released at the beginning of the year, it was certainly a hit in the gay clubs. So who, exactly, are these Nielsen-family djs? That's what I'd like to know!

Of the latest crop of promos, I am enjoying the 2012 club mix of Rich B's "Revolution" featuring Marcella Puppini (of Puppini Sisters fame, and already discussed in a recent post). "Tonight" is the new dance offering from St Etienne, the original extended mix preferred. I love Sarah Cracknell's voice; it's somewhere between Kylie and Deborah Harry, floating beautifully above her band's dreamy instrumentals.

Again, it's the original extended mix to go with when it comes to the trancey "Sunshine in My Life" by FunkySober with true diva vocals by one Sharlene Hector. Beautifully dancetastic despite simplistic lyrics. (Not always a drawback when you just need to work it out on the disco floor.)

From the tv series, Smash, it's Katherine McPhee who's lifted to disco-diva status at last, just like she was lifted on the show during that number by chorus boys. The original tv episode's version was clearly meant as a club tune. Right now, I'm digging the original extended club mix. Let's hope for brilliant remixes and that this will be a Smash.

Every Carol Hahn song's worthy of a celebration. Her newest release is no exception. "If This Is Love" is a great, contemporary hi-NRG number. Talk about uplift in message and melody, this is brilliant! I like the Julian Marsh mix best, fyi.

"Dance Again," Jennifer Lopez' newest, is a guilty pleasure and sure to pleasure the Billboard crowd. Adam Lambert offers "Better Than I Know Myself," of which I'm loving the Mike Rizzo club mix best. And beloved club divas Toni Braxton and Suzanne Palmer are back, people! And that is good news indeed!

Mark Picchiotti is always brilliant and his re-working  of "I Heart You" by Ms Braxton is no exception. May he guide her to the top where she belongs, at least for the club crowd. Suzanne's soulful "Keep on Keepin' On" is a dance delight with a few good remixes on hand to enhance. Right now, I like Gustavo Scorpio's work the most.

May I add that dancing is not only fun, it unites? Peace and happiness to all! Haters are losers. Clubs are where the happy people go. Thanks to all my viewers around the world. Love to all! Shout outs to Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Singapore, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and everyone else! It's one world. Love each other, love the music, dance, peace and out. It's all about the music.

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