It’s sort of troubling to me, when I think about just how fast music streaming is moving (including YouTube). Between the fast movements of social media/streaming services verses the old folk who simply isn’t interested in tapping in to what streaming has to offer; I realize it’s very hard to measure the level of appreciation we still have for classic music. Classic music such as one of Celine Dion’s album “The Colour Of My Love (1993).” It’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve heard anything of Celine on either mainstream radio or radio streaming. It’s a shame because she’s had many, many hits. But, I suppose with America’s culture shifts, if there are people who still do remember Celine, would be mostly likely associated with her Titanic theme song.
One of my favorite hits from this album, is her cover of Jennifer Rush’s “The Power Of Love.” I feel that both artists have done an amazing job with this song. I’m not sure if I like one over the other. “The Power Of Love,” is definitely one of those “made for females” romantic songs. We don’t talk about it much, but woman can make romantic music too. Another amazing song from this album is her cover of “When I Fall In Love,” featuring Clive Griffin. If you are a fairly good singer, I can’t see how anyone could screw this song up! It’s a simple love song, with easy notes that almost anyone can carry. Check out this classic album, and add it to your favorite streaming service.
Do you remember this album? Did any of you hip hop fans even knew this existed? This was Queen’s first jazz album! I had mixed feelings about this album (but neither one of my feelings were negative tho..) I guess it’s because Queen took such a 360 degree turn, it made me do a double take. Let me say this, Queen was one of the very few artists from back in the day that could actually sing! And was one of the very few hip hop artists that could have pull that off. Probably the only other person I can think of that was pure hip hop that could have pulled this off was Lauryn Hill. But, not even then, because she would have turned her album into a jazz/beats project.. I know for most of you youngin’, this album is perhaps too mellow for you liking, but it’s really a good album. Although her album is called “The Dana Owens Album,” the album is really filled with a bunch of cover songs which she performed quite well. I liked her cover of “I Put A Spell On You,” she sounded like a mellowed down version of Nina Simone. I also really liked “Simply Beautiful,” and “California Dreamin’. This may not be the album many of you would add to your daily music consumption, but it’s a nice album for relax time. Check it out..
Song: End Of The Road
Group: Boyz II Men
Album: Cooley High Harmony (1991)
Genre: Slow Jams
Wow.. Talk about forgotten talent. In my opinion, arguably Boyz II Men were one of the biggest and most talented male groups of the nineties! I mean, in terms of male groups of color, the only other group I loved equally as much was Dru-Hill (who also fell off the face of the earth). Now again….. I know I’ve said the same thing multiple times about quite a few artist I write about, but it’s true…. Back in the day, you could not turn on the radio without first hearing at least one of Boyz II Men’s music first! And if you didn’t hear their music first, guaranteed it will be heard no more than three songs later ?. That was how popular Boyz II Men were.
To Date: 173.5M Plays, Yet The Song Was Released Before The Popularity Of Streaming!
Now, today, I would imagine it would be a little difficult to understand the magnitude of a classic group’s popularity if we look at streaming numbers. Why? Because when it comes to streaming, we have more than quadrupled our music consumption. So, relatively speaking, Boyz II Men’s biggest hit was “End Of The Road (1991)” received well over 173M plays on Spotify alone. If we take in to account when the song was released, and the fact that streaming wasn’t even a thing yet back then, those numbers are a huge accomplishment. However, by today’s standards, you don’t have a hit song unless your song is streaming by the billions of plays.
Michael McCary, Single Handedly Brought Young Romance To The Group’s Music
Michael McCary was like the equivalent of a young 20’s version of an older Barry White. I mean, he had such a strong bass in his voice, that when we heard it on radio, or on a record, the speakers just vibrated. Just made you feel like OMG! Take me! Just take me now! ? Unfortunately, McCary had to eventually leave his very famous group due to early stages of MS. Check out some of my other favorite hits by them, such as “One Sweet Day,” “I’ll Make Love To You,” “Motownphilly,” and “Water Runs Dry.”
Genre: Sweet Reggae
This was probably my most difficult handpicked playlist yet!! ? I know it seems like I say that all the time, but it really is true. These days, it’s really hard to find a good cover song. Because either the artist’s voice don’t fit the song, or the musical arrangements are just terrible. I much prefer the 80s covers and older. I know a lot of artist feel like they can sing and do anything the want. However, as a fan of music I beg to disagree. I think a true artist is honest enough to know when a song doesn’t suit them, and if you try to force sing it, it only makes it sound worse. I think the most problem I usually have is with the musical arrangements, particularly today’s cover songs from certain countries. Many cover songs today (both Reggae and some American songs) appear to have a distinct sound; tunes that sound as though the artist purchased their first Yamaha keyboard (earlier models) with artificial drum beats and other electronic “push button” flat sounds that try to mimic other natural instruments. These kind of equipment makes the end product sound outdated, karaoke*ish, and sometimes like an amateurish live performance. Therefor, I’m extremely particular about the covers I listen to.
I’m Extremely Particular About The Covers I Listen To!
So, now that I’ve aired out my pet-peeve, I’d like to draw your attention to a great female reggae artist known by one name, Fiona. Fiona recorded a few covers, but my most favorite cover she did is a song called “You Don’t Know My Name,” which was recorded by Alicia Keys. It was upsetting to know this got so little plays on the streaming platforms, because in my opinion this song is freakin’ amazing! So much great music overlooked. I guess the young people aren’t interested in true love songs anymore; they’re only interested in what they can jiggle their ass to. Another amazing cover I highly recommend you check out, is a female artist known as Natty Bong. She released a cover called “Royals,” which was written and performed by Lords. Natty Bong’s cover got over 5.5M plays from just Spotify alone. It’s a really great song! Check it out!
Enjoyable Cover Songs Are Harder To Find These Days!
Let’s go back a little further in time. 1961 to be exact, when the late Peter Tosh released his cover of a song called “Here Comes The Sun.” The late Peter Tosh recorded this song with the legendary reggae band, The Wailers. “Here Comes The Sun,” was originally written and performed by The Beatles (if I’m not mistaken). I’m shocked as to how many reggae musicians done so many covers by them. Then again, I forget that their are a LOT of British reggae performers.
The Most Shocking Was Bob Marley’s Cover!
I have to say, I think the most shocking cover I ever heard was by the late Bob Marley, when he recorded a song called “Sugar Sugar,” which is the original theme song for the 1968 TV cartoon, The Archie’s. The reason why Bob’s cover shocked me was because, of all the diverse American covers made in to reggae, I just never pictured someone like Bob Marley to do this kind of music. Perhaps it’s because my mind associated his music with political messages, and cartoon themes just wasn’t on my radar. Today, I could see it, but not then. Check out my playlist, I have plenty more surprises in it. I hope you enjoy!
Song: Fast Car
Artist: Tracy Chapman
Album: Tracy Chapman (1988)
Genre: Modern Folk
I’m pretty sure that anyone under 20 years of age has never heard of Tracy Chapman. As far as I’m concerned, I most definitely consider her a classic music legend. I also consider a huge legend of the LGBT community as well. For someone of the LGBT community to receive such a positive and accepting response globally was and is still very rare. Only a handful of LGBT icons have reached mainstream level. Perhaps the most widely known are Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, K.D. Lang, and Boy George. They’ve all made music that is literally timeless! We can listen to this kind of music in any point and time, and never feel their music sounds “dated.” Artists today just don’t have that kind of skill anymore. This is what happens when your career is purely driven by money, and not by the art of music.
I Always Thought She Was A Handsome Young Man! LOL
I was about 21 years old when her album called “Tracy Chapman (1988)” came out. I think I heard her smash hit on the radio “Fast Car,” then I went around begging my friends to tell me who that person was singing on the radio. Back then, cassettes was still the preferred way to consume music. When I first saw her picture on cassette, I said to myself “wow, that’s a cute guy.” Now, keep in mind, guys still had “Tracy” as a first-name, and sometimes both guys and girls would spell it the same way. So I still had no idea he was actually a she at first. LOL I really didn’t care to be honest, I was just digging her music. “Fast Car,” reached #6 on the billboard charts. Pretty impressive for a new LGBT artist on the scene at the time.
It’s Unfortunate That Her Peak Success Only Lasted Her Second Album!
Although only one song from this album was a hit, the entire album is quite good! I consider her music a “modern folk” type music. I haven’t enjoyed good folk music like that since Jim Croce. The entire album is relaxing, and it is playable from beginning to end. This is one of those “coming to age,” type albums. Come to think of it, that kind of music was very common for the 80s. You should check out “Across The Lines,” and “Baby Can I Hold You,” are two of my favorite songs from the album. Her next huge hit would be a song called “Give Me One Reason,” from her “New Beginning (1995)” album. The song shot up to #3 on the Top 100.
Song: Dance With Me
Artist: Earl Klugh
Album: Finger Paintings (1977)
Genre: Instrumental/Easy Listening
Wow… Not only do I think today’s artist was incredibly handsome (and still is), he is incredibly talented! Yet he is so very underrated. Very sadly underrated. He has done a beautiful job of covering some of my most favorite classic songs, reinterpreting them in such a way that his music forces you to just relax and enjoy! There aren’t many artists that has that kind of power today. His style is definitely uniquely his own. If I had to describe his music, I would have to say it’s like modern day Black folk music. But, despite the fact of how wonderfully talented he is, his albums ranked very low on the billboards. On average, most of his albums are below #100 position on the charts.
Today, I Consider Klugh To Be An Unexplored Gem!
I guess the reality is, he’s a jazz musician; and like it or not, jazz is a world onto itself. Billboard’s rating calculations do not reflect the true talents of a jazz artist. Reason being, they’re not mainstream, as in a comparison to a pop artist. As far as I can tell, the only instrumental piece of work he’s done that was received very well by music fans, was today’s pick called “Dance With Me.” “Dance With Me” is actually a song he covered by the band “Orleans.” When I heard Klugh’s reinterpretation, I kept playing it over and over again. It was so soothing and wonderful to listen to. He’s one of those few artist that at times actually appear to make his guitar “sing.” Almost as tho his guitar had vocal cords. I guess this is the difference between an artists that plays because he needs money, and an artist that feels the music as he plays. Big difference.
He’s One Of The Few Artists That Can Make His Instrument Sing!
Another great instrumental piece I love from Klugh happens to be on the same album. It’s called “Dr. Macumba,” which has a relaxing mixtur I e of African and Brazilian energy to it. Another amazing cover he did recently came from his 2013 album called “HandPicked,” which got absolutely no attention, was from the legendary Eagle’s massive hit “Hotel California (duet with Jake Shimabukuro).” If you haven’t heard already, I really think jazz lovers will really love “Wishful Thinking (2005),” from his “Lovers Only” album. If I understand correctly, this piece actually hit 1# on the Jazz Chart. Last one, check out his piece called “Living Inside Your Love (2005),” from his album “Living Inside Your Love.”
Song: I’m Not In Love
Genre: Easy Listening
The group 10cc is probably the biggest rock group of my time (in my opinion). Although they’ve been officially categorized as a rock group, their biggest hits of all time (with the exception of one) are technically in the real of easy listening. If you were into rock music, their name was easy to remember, and music that was unmistakably their own. I’ve often wondered why did they pick 10cc as a group name. There were many different reports, but the last one I’ve read, producer Johnathan King it came to him in a dream. Not to stereotype artists but…. It was a fact that most 80s rockers lived a particular lifestyle, and I think their name more likely came from the drug lifestyle. I suppose we’ll never know the real reason (if any).
They’re One Of The Greatest Rock Groups Of My Time!
10cc has gone through a lot of changes during their 40+ year career. Members came and gone, on and off again relationships. However, during that time they’ve managed to keep their fans. They’re definitely loved practically all around the world. One of their biggest hits I’m in love with, is called “I’m Not In Love (1975).” The song hit #1 in UK, Canada & Ireland; #2 in the US, #3 in Australia. This was a very, very popular song. I haven’t heard anything that was composed like it before. It sort of makes you want to listen to it because it’s so unique. But it’s also a beautiful love song, about a many who loves a woman so much that he can’t get his thoughts straight. Very well written if you ask me.
Collectively Speaking, They’ve Crushed The Music Charts!!
Just to give you an idea as to how huge “I’m not in love” was, as of today Spotify has this at 150M plays, I’ve only looked through a couple of YouTube plays and I stopped around 20M. Shazams has about 2.5 discoveries. I can’t find anything on iTunes, but I’m confident the numbers are around (if not more) that of Spotify. The fact that we’re living in a streaming culture where it appears a significant majority abandon the classics….. That’s freakin’ huge! Then again, to be fair, there is no way we can measure the people who are still faithful to their vinyls and cassettes. Decades later after they’ve released this song, there is no question that music fans still love them.
After 45 Years, Fans Are Still Grooving To This Song!
Some other great songs on their hit list you might remember is “The Things We Do For Love (1977),” from their “Deceptive Bends” album. This song hit #1 in Canada, and #5 in the US. A really, really great song that depicted our culture in the late 70s. Unlike the United States, the UK still has a strong reggae culture there. Songs like “Dreadlock Holiday (1978),” hit #1 in UK, Belgium, Ireland, and Dutch. However, in America it only peaked at #44 on the Top 100 Chart. There’s another reggae song called “I Don’t Like Cricket (I Love It) (c.2015).” Unfortunately, I don’t see any chart information for this song, but I remember hearing it quite a few times. It’s a remake, but it’s a great song nevertheless.
Song: To Where You Are
Artist: Josh Groban
Album: Josh Groban (2001)
Genre: Easy Listening
Wow! ? Throughout my music listening life, I’ve been exposed to many, many different type of voices and singing styles. It is extremely rare that I discover beautiful male voices such as today’s pick. Sometimes you come across talent to where there are no other words to describe them, but to say “he has the voice of an angel.” Funny, because (at least in America) when we use phrases like that, it’s usually in reference to a female. Perhaps, indirectly, our attitudes about male culture has subconsciously effected the way most male performers perform.
Josh Possesses Incredible Vocal Control!
I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out who can I compare his music to, and he’s so unique that I just can’t at the moment. But, if I where forced to make one, he’s almost like what Barbra Streisand may have sounded like if she was born a male singer. In my opinion, I think that is a fair statement. When I first discovered Josh’s music, I was working in a very well known electronic retail store decades ago. Back then, many retailers had prerecorded paid advertisements that would play on the loud speaker, on a loop! Actually, it was more like listening to customized radio recordings designed to sell to the customer. The recordings were a mixture of commercials and new music (pre-release).
The First Time I Heard Josh’s Voice On Speaker…!
I completely forgot what I was doin’, but I’m pretty sure I was organizing store products on gondolas or something like that, when I heard Josh’s voice for the first time. The store was playing his then hit song “To Where You Are.” I said to myself, who the f**k is that? I fell in love with his music ever since. It was the only time I didn’t mind hearing the pre-recorded tracks on loop, because I looked forward to hearing his song again. Back then, music streaming really didn’t catch on yet, so I had no idea that he had quite a few albums before hand.
I’ve Heard Quite A Few Of His Televised Performances!
I’ve seen many of his live televised performances, and let me tell you, his voice is a force that cannot be reckoned with! Again, some of the best male performers I’ve heard don’t posses the vocal control he has. There is no question he has been classically trained. Some other songs I recommend you check out are, a duet with Barbra Streisand called “All I Know Of Love,” and a solo called “You Raise Me Up,” is a wonderful inspirational song (very heart felt). He also did a wonderful live duet with Celine Dione, with a song called “The Prayer.” Like I’ve always said earlier, I normally don’t like to listen to live recordings, unless I’m also watching it. But, they both did a wonderful job the this song. By the way, since I’ve mentioned Celine Dione, you should check out her duet with Andrea Bocelli, also singing “The Prayer.” Absolutely beautiful.