Various recent music writing by yours truly
I am bad at updating tumblr recently (I think I am intimidated by having way too many interesting people and things on my dashboard, I can never get through it all and should probably cull). Anyway, I have written a couple of Number Ones columns for TheVine recently, including:
Number Ones - Ed Sheeran ‘Sing’, in which I analyse Ed Sheeran through the prism of the singer-songwriter and the prism of the Justin Timberlake kind of stuff that’s in this song (Wednesday May 7th, 2014)
Number Ones - Justice Crew ‘Que Sera’, in which I analyse the song with reference to Doris Day, Christopher Marlowe, Kulcha, and Hi-5 (Monday May 12th, 2014)
And then there’s the weekly Music Reader column, which has been full of high quality recently - that Elvie Thomas piece and the Sia piece are both fantastic, and that’s just the two pieces from the New York Times:
Music Reader - Sia, Britpop, Beyonce, Cornershop, more (Thursday May 1st, 2014)
Music Reader - Elvie Thomas, KISS, Lady Gaga, Kate Bush, more (Wednesday 23rd April, 2014)
And I also am now doing the On This Day content for the Foxtel retro-focused music channel Max TV…if you see a little popup at the bottom of your screen telling you that on this day in 1989 Mike & The Mechanics went to #1, well that’s me. Also, on Max’s website, I do a couple of paragraphs about what happened on this day (which are not archived, so keep checking back), such as:
TUESDAY, MAY 13th
1989: Mike & The Mechanics get to #1 in the Australian charts with ‘The Living Years’.
As the English prog rock band Genesis were performing lengthy instrumental solos in the early 1970s, I wonder: did any of them have any inkling that so many different members of the band would go on and have successful solo careers making fairly straightforward pop music in the 1980s? Peter Gabriel, of course, was Genesis’s lead singer before going solo in the mid-1970s, and in the mid-1980s had a big MTV hit with ‘Sledgehammer’. Phil Collins was originally the drummer in Genesis, before taking over as lead singer in the wake of Gabriel’s departure. Collins’ solo career had an embarrassment of riches in songs like ‘Against All Odds’ and ‘In The Air Tonight’ (and judging by ‘Another Day In Paradise’, Collins actually was a bit embarrassed by his riches). Even Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett had a top 20 hit in the US as part of the supergroup GTR.
And, in 1989, it was Genesis bass player Mike Rutherford’s turn. With his side project Mike + The Mechanics, the song was sung by Paul Carrack (who also sang prominently on Squeeze’s hit ‘Tempted’). It’s a catchy thing, and it sounded good on Australian radio in between Noiseworks and INXS. It was at #1 for a single week, before Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ returned to the top of the charts.
The song was nominated for a Grammy, and it had some big fans in unusual places: famed composer Burt Bacharach said in 1996 that ‘The Living Years’ was one of the finest songs of the last 10 years.