Archive for April, 2010
Anyone who knows me knows how much I like making lists. Whether it’s a “To Do” list or a grocery list or the list of names Rod and I made to figure out what to name our pup, lists are key. I also love it when magazines do lists and Rolling Stone is the master: “Top 500 Albums,” “Top 500 Songs,” “100 Greatest Guitarists,” etc. Love it! On the local side, 5280 (which is a popular Denver magazine) constantly publishes lists which is why I subscribe. Examples of their lists include: “The 25 Best Restaurants In Denver,” “205 Reasons To Love Denver” and of course their famous list of all lists, “Top Of The Town.”
Lists are great because they can be about anything, can include anything and can be as long or as short as you want. They can also spark all kinds of discussion about what’s too high on the list, too low or not on there at all.
For my first three lists in a series of what will most likely be many I have of course chosen to write about music. Shocking. So here it goes…
Top 10 BBQ/Pool Songs:
10) Aerosmith – Sedona Sunrise
9) Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child Of Mine
Led Zeppelin – Hey Hey What Can I Do
7) The Eagles – Take It Easy
6) Joe Cocker – Feelin’ Alright
5) Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved
4) DMB – Tripping Billies
3) Snoop Dog – Gin N’ Juice
2) Kid Rock – All Summer Long
1) Sublime – 40 oz. To Freedom
Top 10 Driving Songs:
10) KISS – Rock & Roll All Night
9) Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
Steve Miller Band – Take The Money And Run
7) Bruce Springsteen- Born To Run
6) ZZ Top – Cheap Sunglasses
5) John Mellencamp – Hurts So Good
4) Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
3) Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly
2) Van Halen – Panama
1) AC/DC – Highway To Hell
20 Songs I Can’t Live Without:
20) Carrie Underwood – Undo It
19) Prince – Little Red Corvette
18) Lynyrd Skynyrd – God & Guns
17) Jeff Bridges – Hold On You
16) Gretchen Wilson – Don’t Do Me No Good
15) Black Crowes – Twice As Hard
14) Sheryl Crow – Redemption Day
13) Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana
12) Johnny Cash – Walk The Line
11) Van Halen – Unchained
10) Tom Petty – Mary Jane’s Last Dance
9) Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive
Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child Of Mine
7) AC/DC – Shoot To Thrill
6) Led Zeppelin – Hey Hey What Can I Do
5) Aerosmith – Sedona Sunrise
4) Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
3) Guns N’ Roses – Dust N’ Bones
2) AC/DC – Highway To Hell
1) Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
Back in 1994, when I couldn’t stop listening to Green Day’s Dookie album, I can guarantee that I wasn’t thinking: Wow, this would make a great Broadway show. 10 years later, Green Day released American Idiot, a rock opera album that is a nod to The Who’s Tommy and numerous other musicals. A few days ago American Idiot the musical opened on Broadway. Yeah, that’s right. The punk rock band, which formed in 1987, is going to Broadway.
Green Day is made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool. It can be argued that Green Day, along with The Offspring, brought back punk after the forefathers, The Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, started it all.
Thinking about buying tickets? Here’s the premise: American Idiot follows the exhilarating journey of a new generation of young Americans as they search for meaning in a post-9/11 world, borne along by Green Day’s electrifying score. With a cast of 19 led by Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr., the musical tells the story of three lifelong friends as one takes off for a life in the city, one leaves home to fight for his country and one stays behind, frozen in the safety of suburbia.
Green Day won two Grammy Awards for American Idiot. The album has sold over 14 million copies worldwide since its release, including 267,000 copies in its opening week. Now the band joins up with one of the theatre’s most acclaimed creative teams: Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, two-time Tony Award-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, to bring their story to the stage.
So what does this mean for the future of rock operas? Will other bands follow in Green Day’s three-chord footsteps and make concept albums that can be translated to Broadway? Will they continue to surprise us like when Green Day released a ballad out of nowhere? Think about it: 1997’s inescapable “Good Riddance [Time Of Your Life]” became the go-to song for graduations, farewell parties, bar mitzvahs, etc. Who could have seen that coming?
Either way there is a lot to be said for a band that has continued to turn out hit after hit and album after album for several decades, while always coming up with something new but still staying true to their sound. They’ve already earned several Grammys and now they are the exciting new thing on Broadway. What will this California punk trio come up with next?
Although country music is the most popular radio genre in the United States, it’s probably the least talked about. Because pop stars, rock stars and hip hop artists are always making headlines for being scantily clad or on drugs or for pulling guns in clubs, country singers don’t usually get much press. Outlaw country artists like Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson may have been the exceptions but normally country music singers are not front page news. But over the last few years things have changed.
Let’s go back to a previous decade for a minute: Garth Brooks was the king of country in the 1990s, breaking records for both sales and concert attendance. He is still the best-selling albums artist in the United States, a title he has held since 1991, and he is well over 7 million ahead of his nearest rival, The Beatles. Brooks was as country as you could get with his cowboy hat, boots, black and white outfits and staple songs like “Friends In Low Places” and “Rodeo.” He was old school but he had fans of all ages and still does.
Since 2000, other artists have brought country music to the mainstream without selling out. The Dixie Chicks are a great example along with Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson, Faith Hill and Keith Urban. After Carrie Underwood won American Idol in 2005 she started a whole new genre – Pop Country. Her voice is incredibly strong and she is very likable. She turns out hit after hit (i.e. “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name”) and her performances are always stellar. In short, she is a marketing dream come true. Other country acts that have made the genre more exciting are Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and most recently Lady Antebellum. You’ll still see cowboy hats and boots but the rest of the style is more recent, more relevant and honestly, a little more rock and roll. As a result, country artists are becoming more relatable and people are noticing.
Last night the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards show was on television and most likely you missed it. Maybe it’s because this award show doesn’t get the hype the Grammy’s or the MTV Video Music Awards do or maybe it’s because country music still isn’t as popular as it should be. The usual suspects performed – Underwood, Paisley, Lambert, McGraw etc. and they were all great. Not one screw up, no flubbing lines, no rappers coming up to steal the show. Reba McEntire, who at 55 years old looks unbelievably good, was the host and she performed. Country legends Brooks & Dunn had their final performance on the show when they sang “My Maria,” the song fans voted for online. Despite some technical difficulties with their microphone, their voices sounded great. In fact, it seems that country artists, no matter how long they have been singing, never lose their voices. Maybe it’s because they don’t use them to brag about how many records they’ve sold or when their next album drops like some other people in the music business. Former Hootie & the Blowfish front man Darius Rucker (yeah he’s a country singer now and he’s awesome) closed the show with another amazing performance.
Hopefully country music will continue to attract new blood and will continue to gain recognition. There’s a lot to be said for artists who know their genre, know their fans, can sing and play their instruments without question and who can get a crowd on their feet. Here’s to a future that brings us more great music without the drama.