Tag Archive: Bing Crosby


  • Jo Hale/Getty Images

Jo Hale/Getty Images

In What Have You Done For Us Lately?, we examine the recent output by legendary artists. Yeah, we’re happy when they return with a new album… but really, just how happy are we? We’ll gauge their output since 2000 (or, for less prolific artists, their last five albums), take a hard look and see how their recent material has held up… and maybe help you to find a few gems that you overlooked. 

In this (or any) context, David Bowie is an interesting case. Over the past few decades, he’s been quick to align himself with younger, hipper acts including Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire and TV On The Radio, just to name a few. Critics treat him as if he’s more creatively vital than his peers. But is he? Like Neil Young, Bowie seems to be graded on a curve, based on the premise that he has retained his relevance and his edge more than, say, Elton John or Paul McCartney. He certainly cultivates that perception. His latest album, The Next Day, has been greeted enthusiastically by fans and critics: Rolling Stone gave it four stars, calling it “a triumphant album.”Entertainment Weekly gave it a B, saying it’s “an excellent reminder that Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, and the lunatic who sang Christmas songs with Bing Crosby have all been coexisting in the same brain for decades.” And Pitchfork gave it a 7.6, noting that Bowie’s “self-aware attraction to reinvention has served him well.”

In the 1980s, Bowie became a massive commercial force after teaming with Nile Rodgers on the Let’s Dance album, which put him smack in the middle of the MTV-driven mainstream.  He spent much of the decade in the middle of the road on Tonight, his “Dancing In The Streets” duet with Mick Jagger, his role in the Jim Henson filmLabyrinth and finally, the Never Let Me Down album, which did just that, across the board, impressing neither radio programmers nor his longtime fans.

In 1989, Bowie rebooted his career by forming a band, Tin Machine. After two albums, Bowie reunited with Nile Rodgers for a dance oriented album, Black Tie White Noise. And that brings us to what he’s done for us (relatively) lately. Read more here: What Have You Done For Us Lately, David Bowie? « Radio.com News.

Outside – 1995

David Bowie Outside

Outside saw Bowie reunite with Berlin-era collaborator Brian Eno, and positioned him as the forefather of the industrial rock that was hugely popular at the time. Indeed, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor remixed “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson,” and NIN opened on Bowie’s tour.  The album showed that Bowie still had edge – “Hallo Spaceboy” bordered on thrash metal – but for the most part, lacked great songs and buckled under the weight of the concept album’s lyrics.

Critical Response: It seemed like many critics had a hard time slamming the album at the time. Rolling Stone gave it three out of five stars, but admitted that the concept album’s “superfluous” lyrics “damn near sink the record.” Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-, saying, “Outside sounds like fodder for an industrial-music Broadway show based on Blade Runner.”
Sales: Outside peaked at  No. 21 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” hit No. 20 on Billboard‘s Modern Rock Tracks chart.
What stuck: During the Outside tour, Bowie played most of the album; on subsequent tours, he mainly played “Hallo Spaceboy” and “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson.” But “The Motel” would show up in his 2003 live sets.

Earthling – 1997

David Bowie Earthling

Bowie recorded 1997′s Earthling with his touring band just weeks after the Outside tour wrapped. Featuring Tin Machine’s Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust-era sideman Mike Garson on keyboards, drummer Zack Alford and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, the album was influenced by the drum-and-bass dance music of the late ’90s, and as a result sounds a bit dated now. Still, most fans agreed that it was an improvement on Outside. And Trent Reznor returned with another remix, this time for “I’m Afraid Of Americans.”

Critical Response: Rolling Stone gave it three and a half stars, saying, “If Bowie is not the art-rock pioneer he was in the ’70s, his enduring enthusiasm for new musical adventures can be applauded.” Entertainment Weekly was more in favor of the album, giving it a solid A.
Sales: While it fared better critically than OutsideEarthling only hit No. 39 on the Billboard 200 album chart; “I’m Afraid Of Americans” hit No. 29 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and  No. 24 on the (then-called) Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
What stuck: “I’m Afraid Of Americans” is easily the album’s standout track (the Reznor remix was more popular than the album version, and even got a music video co-starring Bowie and Reznor), remaining in Bowie’s setlists for years. “Battle For Britain (The Letter)” got some play as well, but the album has a number of gems, including “Seven Years In Tibet” and “Dead Man Walking.”

…hours – 1999

David Bowie … hours

The cover of  hours… hinted at where Bowie was going. The short-haired Bowie pictured on the cover of the high-energy Earthling lay (seemingly) dead in the arms of a newer, longer-haired, mellower Bowie. And while the album had at least one rocker – “The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell” – most of the album was more contemplative, even adult (if not “adult contemporary”). The first single, “Thursday’s Child,” is one of Bowie’s loveliest ballads, but sadly, didn’t find an audience.

Critical ResponseRolling Stone gave it four stars, saying, “As always, Bowie’s eccentric sense of melody twists around the ear like a space oddity, getting under the skin, plucking the heartstrings and stirring up feelings of alienation we never knew we had,” and also that it is “an album that improves with each new hearing.” Try it yourself and see.
Sales: A dud: It only reached No. 47 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
What stuck: Within a few years, Bowie dropped all …hours songs from his set. A shame: “Thursday’s Child” and “Seven” hold up to his great ’70s ballads.

Heathen – 2002

David Bowie Heathen

Bowie reunited with producer Tony Visconti for the first time since 1980′s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) for this one, and positioned it as a sequel to 1977′s Low (also produced by Visconti). To make the point, he celebrated Heathen‘s release by playing both albums in their entirety at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom.

Critical Response: The critics were definitely on board with this one.Rolling Stone gave it three and a half stars, saying that Heathen “is the sound of Bowie essentially covering himself – to splendid, often moving effect.” In other words, Bowie wasn’t doing anything really new… but they liked it. Entertainment Weekly gave a B+, whilePitchfork gave it a 7.8 out of 10, calling it (somewhat vaguely) “the best Bowie release in years.”
Sales: The public seemed a little more interested in this one, and the album hit No. 14 on the Billboard 200 album chart. A remix of “Everyone Says ‘Hi’” reached No. 42 on Billboard‘s Dance/Club Play Songs chart.
What Stuck: The real keepers on this album were the covers: Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting For You” (featuring Dave Grohl on guitar) and especially the Pixies’ “Cactus.” Bowie kept a bunch of songs from this album in his setlists for years to come, including “Afraid,” “Heathen (The Rays)” and “Slip Away,” showing that he felt more strongly about the album than he did about, say, …hours.

Reality – 2003

David Bowie Reality

Bowie clearly enjoyed his reunion with Tony Visconti on Heathen, and stuck with the producer for the follow-up (Visconti also produced The Next Day). The album sonically recalled Bowie and Visconti’s work onScary Monsters, but with more grown-up lyrics.

Critical Response: Rolling Stone gave it three stars. Pitchfork graded it a 7.3, half a point lower than what they gave Heathen, saying, “Bowie’s musical ideas, not filtered through any sort of trend-grab, are unfailingly unique, and that alone should cement his continued role as vibrant, modern artist for years to come.” No one knew that he would fade from the scene for nearly a decade.
SalesReality hit No. 29 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
What Stuck: Bowie hasn’t performed often since wrapping up his tour for this album, but it’s easy to see him keeping “New Killer Star” in his sets.

The Verdict: While nothing Bowie has done in the past two decades has approached the level of genius he regularly hit in the ’70s, he has a number of great songs that easily hold up to his classics. If you’ve slept on recent Bowie, check out “Hallo Spaceboy,” “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson,” “I’m Afraid Of Americans,” “Thursday’s Child,” “Seven,” “Dead Man Walking,” “Cactus” and “New Killer Star.”

The Top 10 biggest selling Christmas songs of all time!

By Dan Lane

'It's for the underdog' … Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan promote Fairytale of New York.

To celebrate Christmas 2012, today the Official Charts Company reveal the Top 10 biggest selling Christmas songs of all time.

With more records sold in the run up to Christmas than a typical chart week, the Christmas Number 1 is THE chart topper every artist wants to achieve. And it has been this way since the Official Singles Chart began 60 years ago.

To have a Christmas Number 1 on your musical CV means you really are the best of the best; capturing the heats and minds of the nation… That, or you’ve managed to dazzle the British public with your, um, uniqueness (yes, we’re talking about you Mr Blobby).

However, not all of the biggest selling Christmas singles have been to Number 1 (two in the Top 10 peaked at Number 2, and one peaked at Number 5), and not all of the biggest selling Christmas singles have necessarily been, well, Christmassy.

To celebrate Christmas 2012 and 60 years of the Official Singles Chart, the Official Charts Company reveal the biggest selling Christmas songs of all time. These tracks may or may not have religious overtones, but have nevertheless captured the essence of what this special time of year is about.

At Number 1 on the countdown is Band Aid‘s Do They Know It’s Christmas? – the landmark charity single helmed byBob Geldof and Midge Ure to help raise funds and awareness for the 1984 Ethiopian famine. Featuring an all-star cast including members of The WhoU2 and Genesis to name but a few, Do They Know It’s Christmas? has sold a staggering 3.7 million copies to date and is the second biggest selling single of all time. The 20th anniversary version of the track is at Number 6 in the countdown with sales of 1.17 million copies.

Mary’s Boy Child also appears twice in the Top 10, making its first appearance at Number 2 with Boney M‘s 1978 rendition (which has sales of 1.85 million copies), while Harry Belafonte‘s 1957 original is at Number 5 (with sales of 1.18 million).

Wham!‘s Last Christmas, which we can officially confirm is the biggest selling Christmas song to have never reached Number 1, is at Number 3 in the chart with sales of 1.68 million. The Top 5 is completed by Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody at Number 4, which has sales of 1.21 million copies to date.

The full Top 10 is as follows:

SINGLE TITLE ARTIST YEAR PEAK POSITION
1 DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 1984 1
2 MARY’S BOY CHILD BONEY M 1978 1
3 LAST CHRISTMAS WHAM! 1984 2
4 MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY SLADE 1973 1
5 MARY’S BOY CHILD HARRY BELAFONTE 1957 1
6 DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS? BAND AID 20 2004 1
7 WHITE CHRISTMAS BING CROSBY 1942 5
8 FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK THE POGUES FT KIRSTY MACCOLL 1987 2
9 THE MILLENNIUM PRAYER CLIFF RICHARD 1999 1
10 WHEN A CHILD IS BORN JOHNNY MATHIS 1976 1

© 2012 The Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.

2012 Christmas playlist: the XX,Blink 182, Dropkick Murphys,The Killers and more

_xmas_songs

 

Every Christmas you’re forced to endure another airing of Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’, whatever dreck Micheal Buble has released this year and – if you’re lucky – maybe someone will dig out A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector. This year has seen the record store bargain bins filled with new Christmas albums from practically every failed American Idol contestant, third rate opera warbler and even the horrendous return of John Travolta and Olivia Newton.

FL’s 2012 Christmas playlist has avoided those horrors but, like that cracker joke your uncle will tell at lunch on Christmas Day, this list of songs is still fairly questionable. Check out new Christmas carols from NOFX, Blink 182, Dropkick Murphys, The Killers, CeeLo Green, Kate Nash, Sufjan Stevens, Glassvegas, Tracey Thorn, and even a bizarre John Jarratt carol for Schapelle Corby.

NOFX – ‘Xmas Has Been X’ed’

Probably the only Christmas song to feature a lines about priests and nuns molesting each other, naked evangelicals and the death of St Nick. This NSFFL (Not Safe For Family Lunch) carol appears on the latest NOFX record Self Entitled.

Sir Christopher Lee – ‘Little Drummer Boy’

Sir Christopher Lee has made over 200 films appearing in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars series, The Wicker ManThe Man with the Golden Gun and a string of Hammer Horror films. He has also released three album including Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross. His new album Sir Christopher Lee’s A Heavy Metal Christmas does exactly what it says on the box. You really, really need to hear his version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’.

Blink 182 – ‘Boxing Day’.

This cut from the maturing pop punks isn’t technically a Christmas song; it’s a day after Christmas song. The maudlin track from the band’s new EP Dogs Eating Dogs has Tom DeLonge singing about feeling “empty like the day after Christmas” in a way that makes you long for the days when their songs were just about penises. Hardcore fans can add the “Santa’s Lap” version to their Xmas wishlists – it comes with a t-shirt, limited edition poster, wrapping paper and a Christmas card.

Dropkick Murphys – ‘The Season’s Upon Us’

The band that aspires to be the AC/DC of Celtic punk rock has delivered an anthem we can all bellow after a few too many egg-nogs. “My sisters are wackjobs, I wish I had none/Their husbands are losers and so are their sons/My nephew’s a horrible wise little twit/He once gave me a nice gift wrapped box full of shit”

CeeLo Green – ‘All I Need Is Love (ft. The Muppets)’

According to Statler and Waldorf the Muppets have hit a new low and his first name is Cee. (Ba-doom-ching!) But how can you go wrong with a Christmas video that combines The Muppets’ classic ‘Mahna Mahna’, a shiny red suit that would made the 1980s version of Eddie Murphy jealous and Muppetified version of CeeLo?

The Killers – I Feel It In My Bones ft. Ryan Pardey

It’s a holiday tradition for The Killers to release a Christmas song. The past six years have brought us ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’, ‘A Great Big Sled’ and a collaboration with Mariachi El Bronx titled ‘¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!’. The video for the seventh Killers Xmas tune features a series of Xmas killings as Santa track down and murders the members of the band.

August Burns Red – ‘Jingle Bells

All I want for Christmas is a metalcore version of ‘Jingle Bells’ – said no one ever.

Tracey Thorn – ‘In the Cold, Cold Night

The voice of Everything but the Girl has delivered the best Christmas record of the year (not that she was faced with much competition). The album features covers of Low’s ‘Taking Down the Tree’, Dolly Parton’s ‘Hard Candy Christmas’ and this White Stripes classic. Sure, it’s not really a Christmas song, but the album’s called Tinsel and Lights so we’ll let it pass.

Sufjan Stevens – Chopped And Scrooged

Following his five-disc Christmas album, Sufjan Stevens now has a Christmas rap mixtape with the festively punning title Chopped And Scrooged. The mix features guest appearances from ex-Das Racist member Heems, Nicky Da B, Busdriver, and others rapping over music from Silver And Gold, Sufjan’s five EP set of Xmas tunes recorded between 2006 and 2010. Download the Chopped And Scrooged mixtape here

Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?

Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – ‘Christmas Eve Can Kill You’

A typically uplifting cover from old friends and collaborators Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy although it’s not a new song – the Everly Brothers’ recorded this way back in 1971.

She & Him – ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’

Well it’s Zoeey Deschanel who sings the song. So i put the song on the list. 😀

Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey & The Roots – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’

This one’s a special gift for your little sister who loves Mariah but should be listening to the Roots.

A Christmas message from Andrew WK and Lil Bub

Usually Andrew WK only has one word of advice: PARTY. As most of us have no difficulty partying over the holiday period Mr WK has another important message for us about the importance of looking after your animal friends.

Annie Lennox – God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman

Randy & Ronnie Brooks – Grandma Got Over Run By A Reindeer

The XX – Last Christmas (Wham Cover)

The Pogues ft. Kirsty Mc Coll – Fairy Tale of New York Christmas

Frank Sinatra – Chestnut Roasting on an Open Fire

— words taken from tom mann for fasterlouder.com.au, songs compiled from many sources, image from sheknows.com

 

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