All posts tagged: Laura Branigan

OMG_thumb

Like, Omigod! Digging Through the ’80s Pop Culture Box, Part 7

Funk, power pop, adult contemporary, Eurodisco — there’s a little something for everybody this week! Or, as Dw. Dunphy (who is never at a loss for words) put it, “I HAVE NEVER LOVED ANYTHING QUITE LIKE I LOVE THIS LIST. Or, well, it’s kinda nice.” #11 Rick James, “Super Freak (part 1)” (1981) #1 on the dance charts, #16 Hot 100. Dan Wiencek – With a riff like that, could this have not been a hit? Well, given Hammer’s subsequent appropriation of it, I guess we can conclude the answer is no. I’m kind of a downer on most of this week’s entries, so let me put it in black and white: this is killer. I’m not enough of an expert on funk/R&B to categorically state that this is the last of the “old school” tracks to strike it big before Purple Rain completely changed what R&B sounded like, but that’s how I remember it. Kind of a shame that most young people now think of Rick James as a punchline on Chapelle’s Show. (Not …

kenny

You’re Dead to Us…Hit Songs By Older Adults, Made for Older Adults

A new series in which we look at once common curiosities of pop culture that don’t exist anymore, be it because of changing tastes, the fragmentation of culture, or merely the fickle nature of fads. My first memories of pop music are around 1981, 1982, age three or so. That dovetailed with the time my parents’ reached that point that most parents reach—when they stop actively paying attention to and keeping up with current pop music. Thus, American pop music began with “Islands in the Stream” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” for me, and ended with “Islands in the Stream” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” for my parents. Since then it’s been nothing but The Big Chill soundtrack and church music. This conscious shift into ignorance or semi-ignorance of current chart hits has happened to me, too. I’ve got a kid and a job and a novel I’m never going to finish to tackle, so there’s less time for music. Every day for a few hours while I work I take some time to listen …

Popdose Flashback: Michael Bolton, “Soul Provider”

In Bull Durham, Kevin Costner’s character Crash Davis chides Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) for his laziness and lack of focus on the game of baseball. “You got a gift,” he says. “When you were a baby, the gods reached down and turned your right arm into a thunderbolt. You got a Hall-of-Fame arm, but you’re pissing it away.” Likewise, when Michael Bolotin (later, Bolton) was born, the gods reached down and gave him lungs of reech Coreenthian leather—a multi-octave range, filtered through a gruff, almost sandpaper-like delivery. But saying Bolton can sing is like saying George Bush can speak English: big deal, what’s he done with it? The issue is context. His early solo work in the 70s was crap—miscast as a Joe Cocker wannabe, he tried his hand crooning stuff like “These Eyes” and “Time is on My Side,” with no particular distinction. His two-album stint as the lead singer of Blackjack was similarly underwhelming—muddy production and faceless instrumentation (by Bruce Kulick, Sandy Gennaro, and Jimmy Haslip, all of whom would go on to …

Future Retro: Laura Branigan

CALLING GLORIA Laura Branigan is a classic example of a great and underrated talent whose life and career were cut short far too soon. Laura possessed an elastic alto voice with a stunning four-octave vocal range. She began her career with stints as a backing vocalist for Leonard Cohen and as a member of the group Meadow. She was signed to Atlantic Records by the legendary Ahmet Ertegun, and after much delay, her debut solo album, Branigan, was released in 1982. All the voices in your head made “Gloria,” the album’s second single, a surprise worldwide smash. The song reached #2 in the U.S., eventually spent a record-setting 36 weeks on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, and racked up sales of over two million copies. In 1983 “Gloria” earned Laura her first of four Gammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance—Female. Thanks in large part to its most prominent hit single, the Branigan album went gold. Not bad for the new gal on the block. The spring of ’83 saw the release of Laura’s second album, …

Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’80s, Part 10

Welcome to double digits! This marks the tenth week of posting every song from the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s that peaked at #41 and beyond. I have to say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying writing this series, especially going back and listening to the songs I hadn’t heard since I passed by them while listening to the entire collection (I did that in alphabetical order too). Big thanks for last week’s comments too. Close to 60 of them, mostly about your first music purchases, which, as I mentioned, I love to hear. Just a short little anecdote before we get to the songs this week — I can only remember one time in my life where I’ve actually said to someone that I wished I was another person. You’d think I would’ve said Michael Jordan, Billy Joel, or some dude who got all the chicks, but back in 1989 I actually remember telling my mother that I wished I was Tone Loc. That’s right — a pale-ass Irish redhead wished he was a …