Stone In Love
Lord knows I love me some Angie Stone and so her brand new album, Unexpected, gives me even more reasons to express my adoration. The neo-soul songstress, whose 2002 "Wish I Didn't Miss You" still makes me tingle, has produced an outstanding album that is, as its title suggests, unexpected. The 12-track LP features Stone presenting a more contemporary R&B style that feels natural and right for her. She effortlessly demonstrates an ability to push past her own artistic limits, bringing joy to her legion of fans and impressively reaching out to those who may be new to the fold.
Grammy Nods for Guetta
Superstar DJ/Producer David Guetta has had a huge year and it got even better a few weeks ago when he earned five Grammy nominations. He picked up two of them in the Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year categories as producer of the Black Eyed Peas monster smash "I Gotta Feeling." His own album One Love, earned 3 nominations: Best Dance Electronic Album Of The Year along with Best Dance Recording and Best Remixed Recording for the album's first single "When Love Takes Over" featuring Kelly Rowland. For a dance artist to have such success in the Grammy world is indicative of just how intertwined dance is becoming with pop, hip-hop, R&B, and other genres. Congrats to Guetta!
The Oughts' Top-Sellers
All the decade lists are coming out and it appears that Eminem took the title of Best Selling Artist of the Decade thanks to two of his albums being in the Top 10 of Best Selling Albums of the Decade: The Marshall Mathers LP (10.2 million records sold) at #4 and The Eminem Show (9.8 million) at #5. That album list was topped by 1 by The Beatles (11.5 million), followed closely by *NSYNC's No Strings Attached (11.1 million) and Norah Jones' Come Away With Me (10.5 million) … As for downloaded singles, the Top 5 for the decade: Flo Rida - "Low" (5.2 million downloads); Lady Gaga - "Just Dance" (4.7 million); Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours" (4.6 million); Timbaland feat. OneRepublic - "Apologize" (4.4 million); and The Black Eyed Peas - "Boom Boom Pow" (4.3 million)
Despite the interestingness with which George Michael's life plays out in public, the man's ability to sing and to entertain have never ever been questioned. And if you do hear someone doubting these abilities, then make sure you point them in the direction of the new DVD George Michael: Live In London. Recorded and filmed at the final two Live 25 concerts in London's Earls Court arena in August 2008, the 23-song concert is presented brilliantly, aptly capturing the magnitude and the magnificence of the event. Included on the song list: "I'm Your Man," "Flawless," "Father Figure," "Everything She Wants," "Faith," "Careless Whisper," and so many more. Live In London also includes a second disc with 3 bonus tracks as well as a a behind-the-scenes documentary presentations about the European portion of the Live 25 concert tour. This DVD is excellent on all fronts – audio, visuals, and extra goodies – and stands as irrefutable evidence that George Michael can sing and entertain.
I told you a couple of month ago about Cazwell's new album Watch My Mouth and the first single "Tonight." Set to the hook from Shannon's classic "Give Me Tonight," Cazwell's maxi-single has 16 remix offerings from the likes of RedTop, Lost Daze, and Count De Money. My fave mixes of the bunch include the Master Blaster by Craig C., with it's haunting funk feel, and the slowed and electro-twisted Conquistadors Mix … Even though she's been around for more than a decade, R&B singer N'dambi may not be known to you, but I'm going to try and change that. Her first single "Can't Hardly Wait" off her latest album Pink Elephant is a solid effort that gets elevated on the "must have" meter in dance remix form by superstars Stonebridge. Another superlative remix effort is delivered by Matthias Heilbronn on "The World Is A Beat," another strong single from the album… By now, most of you have probably heard "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha. Well, there are two remixes that you might want to add to your playlist. The Wolfedelic Club Mix has a more mainstream feel and appeal, while the electro-trippy Tom Neville Crunk & Med Mix gets my seal of approval.
As Lady Gaga has been riding a rocket ship to stardom this past year, her DJ and collaborator, Space Cowboy, has also seen his profile grow tremendously. Already well-established as a unique DJing talent in the U.K. before he met Lady, Space Cowboy is best known for his melding of techno, rock, hip-hop, electro, and dance into a cohesive sound. In 2006 he released his first album Digital Rock, and is now poised to follow it up with Digital Rock Star, a 12-track CD that is essentially part 2 of his "Digital Rock" opus. While it is easy to be dismissive of Space Cowboy as someone who is simply riding the coattails of Lady Gaga, the truth of the matter is that he is a influential figure in today's pop music and should not be ignored.
What DJs Are Playing
Outside of the world of dance remixes of commercial pop songs, DJs in the city have been enthusiastically supporting two tracks that are presented to you as recommendations of the highest order. The first is a collaboration between the Godfather of House Music, Frankie Knuckles, and The Shapeshifters ("Lola's Theme" and "Back To Basics") called "The Ones You Love" and it is an outstanding piece of dance music. With a deep penetrating bass line, gorgeous keyboards, and a terrific vocal performance, "The Ones You Love" is certain to be in heavy rotation on your iPod. … David Guetta, Kelly Rowland and the gang may have had the anthem of the summer with "When Love Takes Over," but the best dance vocal track of this type for the year is arguably "Step By Step" by Laidback Luke and Gregor Salto with Mavis Acquah on vocals. It is just a gorgeous, lush piece of music that is sure to make you all goose-pimply.