Tomorrow’s Top 40: The Best of Today’s Newest Releases featuring The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Blondie, Tegan and Sara, Carly Rae Jepsen, Meghan Trainor, Vance Joy and, oh yes, Taylor Swift!

In this issue of Tomorrow’s Top 40 we will take quick looks at new releases by The Rolling Stones, Madonna and Blondie…all just in time for the Holiday season. We will also take a closer look at new releases by some modern day artists such as Tegan and Sara, Carly Rae Jepson, Meghan Trainor, Vance Joy and, oh yes, some unknown, unassuming artist named Taylor Swift.

Home For The Holidays:

When I was a much younger man, the start of the Christmas buying season was always a good one in that there always seemed to be an explosion of good books, movies and music that suddenly appeared on store shelves. Buying “Collector’s Editions” or “Commemorative reissues” or simply, “Greatest Hits” CDs was always synonymous with Christmas for me. However, today, with streaming services monopolizing content delivery, the Christmas shopping season feels like it has a slightly different aura about it. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some blockbuster packages waiting for us to buy them. Here are just a few of the heavyweight artists who have assembled some of their best work for us to buy, just in time for the Holidays.

The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo, 1977.

This double CD/album actually came out at the beginning of the summer but is being heavily promoted again as Christmas draws near. If you know The Rolling Stones history at all then you will be aware of that time they disguised themselves as The Cockroaches and played two surprise shows at Toronto’s El Mocambo night club in 1977. It was not easy to pull off such a show but they did so by promoting the two-date set as an April Wine gig with The Cockroaches opening for them. However, truth be told, the planning for the recording of a live Bluesy album and a hot, sweaty, intimate setting had been in the works for a while. The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo, 1977 captures the best of the performances over the course of those two shows. For any true Stones fan, this collection is a must-have. Here is a sample of those concerts…”Rip This Joint” can be listened to here.

Madonna: Finally Enough Love: 50 Number One Hits.

Imagine having a career that saw you have not one, not two but fifty #1 hit songs! Wow! That is one impressive musical resume. But, then again, Madonna isn’t one of the top selling musical acts in history without reason. Her discography travels from her heyday in the 1980s, all the way into the 2000s and includes every song that made it to #1 on the music charts, regardless of which chart it was (the Top 40 chart, the Dance Charts, the Electronic Dance Charts, the Movie Soundtrack charts, the Adult Contemporary charts and so on). Madonna is a very talented singer and performer but she is even a better business person. This collection remains faithful enough to the original way her songs were recorded so that casual fans will love what they find here. But, there are also songs that fall into niche categories such as extended dance versions of her hits that will please those of you who dig that sort of groove. In short, there will be something here for everyone who considers Madonna to be their G.O.A.T. From this album, here is Vogue. You can listen to it here.

Blondie: Against the Odds: 1974-1982.

The band, Blondie, don’t always get the credit they deserve for having their musical fingers so clearly on the pulse of the time as the 1970s rolled into the 80s. They were one of the biggest bands to transition from the start of the Disco craze, to Punk Rock as it began and then, to Hip Hop and Reggae, as both of those genres of music began to take off in popularity. They were part of it all and this new album, Blondie: Against the Odds: 1974-1982 chronicles those times in great detail. This is an album for true collectors because it is filled with rare outtakes, alternate recordings, secret live performances, remixes and extended plays and other such nuggets that have been kept hidden in the musical vault for over forty years now. For the casual fan searching for the recording of “Heart of Glass” that they loved as a younger version of themselves, they might find this album to be frustrating. However, for those true devotees of the band, the album will be like finding treasure. So go explore and have a blast but beware, this is not a typical “Greatest Hits” album. Here is the version of “Heart of Glass” as found on this album.

Modern Day New Releases

Just like those musical titans listed above, there are many modern day acts who have released new material just in time for the holidays. Here is a rundown of just a few.

Tegan and Sara: Crybaby.

Crybaby is the tenth album from Calgary-born twins, Tegan and Sara Quin. They burst onto the music scene a few years ago with their hit, “Closer”. Since then, the sisters have used their fame to support various LGBTQ causes, as well as other female-oriented acts. Like many musical acts, the COVID pandemic affected their career and limited their ability to travel and perform. However, they used this time to good effect by familiarizing themselves with the latest technological developments and by writing lots of new material. The combination of the two have taken shape in the form of a new album called Crybaby. There are lots of radio-friendly tracks here such as “Whatever That Was”, which you can listen to here. Enjoy.

Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loneliest Time.

There is a very strong tendency among casual fans to label Carly Rae Jepsen as being a one-hit wonder. But, what a one-hit wonder! She is known around the world as the Canadian girl who sings, “Call Me Maybe”. That one song ended up selling over 20 million copies and placed her in a position where she could afford to be choosy about what her next steps would be. So, instead of rushing back out with a new album that may or may not contain songs of the quality of “Call Me Maybe”, Jepsen decided to step away from the world of Pop music and, instead, took her vocal talents to Broadway, where she starred in several productions of major plays such as Cinderella and Grease. That time on stage allowed Jepsen to take a bit of a break from the media frenzy that enveloped her and gave her the time to refocus on her music and the writing and crafting of new material that spoke to her own heart. The result of this time away from the spotlight is a new album called The Loneliest Time. The first single from this album is the title track and it features the magnificent Rufus Wainwright. You can check out the awesome video for this song here.

Meghan Trainor: Takin’ It Back.

A few years ago, Meghan Trainor burst onto the music scene with a big hit song entitled, “All About the Bass” which wasn’t necessarily about musical notes, if ya know what I mean?! In the time since then, she has had a fair degree of success with songs such as “Lips Are Movin’”, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” and “No”. She won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and has released music in the Pop, Doo Wop, Dance and Hip Hop categories. Now, Meghan Trainor is back with a new album for the holidays entitled, Takin’ It Back. Like Lizzo, Meghan Trainor is becoming known for promoting body positivity in her music and, as a result, she supports many causes that promote this issue for young girls and women. Her latest single is called “Bad For Me” ft. Teddy Swims. It is about dealing with toxic relationships. You can listen to this song here.

Vance Joy: In Our Own Sweet Time.

Vance Joy is the stage name of Australian singer James Keogh. For the past decade, Vance Joy has been releasing hit album after hit album and enjoyed much success with a string of hits starting with “Riptide” and extending onward through “Georgia”, “Mess is Mine”, “Fire and the Flood”, “Lay It On Me”, “We’re Going Home” and his latest single, “Missing Piece” from his third album, In Our Own Sweet Time. Both of Vance Joy’s first two studio albums reached #1 on the charts. His current album sits at #3 as you read these words. Vance Joy is known more as an Alternative artist but I think most people who like Pop music will be very much at home with his sound and his on stage persona. The song, “Missing Piece” is about being separated from the one you love (as many of us were during the pandemic). This song has already been used on the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. It won the award for Best Music Video in Australia and is the most-played song in Australia so far in 2022. It is a really sweet song that you can listen to here.

Taylor Swift: Midnights.

Taylor Swift has a new album out and apparently it is a bit of a big deal.

Like Madonna, Taylor Swift is a woman who knows how to write a clever Pop song but, more importantly, she knows how to build and market her brand. She is arguably the most powerful female performer in the world so when she starts dropping hints on social media that a new song/new look/new relationship is brewing, her army of fans go wild. The release of Midnights was a significant social media event when it dropped this past Friday. The premise of the album is that each song represents a moment in her life when she lay awake in bed at midnight pondering the state of the world with regard to things going on in her life. Taylor Swift is clever enough to make it seem as though the things she is dwelling upon are universal in nature and, as such, what she feels is important, you should feel that way, too. Her fans, known as Swifties, are an economic and political force. So, when Taylor Swift ruminates on “feeling fat”, social media trending topics immediately focus on body image issues. When Taylor Swift speaks out about political issues, her fans respond in kind, such as registering in record numbers to vote in the upcoming US midterm elections. Midnights sold over a million copies the first weekend it was released. All of the tracks on the album have been downloaded and dissected ad nauseum online so I will spare you my track-by-track analysis. Her first official release from the album is a song called “Bejewelled” which is a take on the Cinderella story but, according to the Swifties, refers to many other songs and videos that she has made throughout her career. For me, I will simply give the lady her due. “Bejewelled” is a pure Pop song which contains a message about self-esteem and empowerment that I am sure will resonate with young girls. Taylor Swift is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the power and influence she wields. That can clearly be seen in how Midnights has debuted at #1 on the charts and has blown every other new release out of the musical water, in terms of sales and media attention. “Bejeweled” may be the first song released from the album but, I guarantee you, it won’t be the last. You can listen to the song, “Bejeweled” here.

***The cover photo comes from the website of a music school called C & S Music. The link to their website can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #135: Call Me by Blondie (from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the movie, “American Gigolo” (KEXP)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #135: Call Me by Blondie, from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the movie, American Gigolo.

“Call Me” by Blondie was that group’s biggest selling song of their career. It reached the #1 spot on the charts and remained their for seven consecutive weeks. For the year 1980, when it was released, it ended up being declared by Billboard Magazine as the #1 song for the entire year. “Call Me” was a song that was part of the soundtrack to the movie, “American Gigolo”, which starred Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton. The story of “Call Me” IS the story of the movie, “American GIgolo” so, in order to discuss the song, let’s start with a quick recap of the movie and why it became the hit that it did. Here is the story of one of the most perfectly crafted movie soundtrack songs of all-time….”Call Me”.

The movie, “American Gigolo” is a crime drama. It starred Richard Gere as a high-priced male prostitute whose job it was to squire rich and well-connected woman whenever they came to Los Angeles. The role made famous by Gere was, originally, offered to Christopher Reeve, John Travolta and, even, Chevy Chase (who was as hot as anyone at the time, fresh off of his star turn as news anchor on the new hit show, Saturday Night Live). But, all actors turned the role down and, eventually, it fell to Gere who, at the time, was an unknown actor/model.

At it turned out, one of the reasons that “American Gigolo” was even made in the first place was because the desire of two emerging European talents who wanted an “in” to the North American market. Those two men were designer, Giorgio Armani and music whiz, Giorgio Moroder. Both men ended up playing a crucial role in helping Blondie’s lead singer, Deborah Harry, to find the necessary inspiration to accurately capture the mood of the film in her song, “Call Me”.

Let’s first talk about Giorgio Armani. By 1980, Armani was a name of note in the fashion world. In particular, he had developed a reputation for designing stylish men’s suits. Being a designer, Armani had a eye for colour schemes that worked well together so, when the film’s producers wanted to consult someone who could give their film a certain stylish, noir look that they were looking for, they asked Armani for help. So, Giorgio Armani became an Art and Costume consultant for the movie. Because of his influence, Richard Gere, who was already well-versed in the ways of fashion and modelling, was dressed in Armani suits and filmed in lighting that bathed him in blues and other filtered colours. A beautiful man was made even more handsome and stylish because of Armani’s touch. Because of the showcase that “American Gigolo” provided to Armani, one of the #1 trends that happened as a result of the movie was a huge demand in Amercia for Armani suits. HIs desire to create an inroads into the lucrative American market was achieved.

This brings us to Giorgio Moroder. In 1979, when the movie was being put together, Giorgio Moroder was one of the new wonder kids behind one of the biggest musical movements at the time, Disco. Moroder had just created a means of introducing himself into the North American music market via his work with Donna Summer. It was Moroder who helped create the synthesized pulsating beat that powered Summer’s breakthrough hit, “I Feel Love”. *(you can read the post for that song, here). Because of his use of synthesizers, an endless series of beats could now be automated and played in any manner he desired. Moroder’s innovation helped give Disco its dance-oriented sound and, as time went on, helped give a sonic foundation to those who now make electronic dance music. So, when the directors of “American Gigolo” sought someone to crate the musical soundtrack for their film, they turned to the hottest person in the world of music at the time, Giorgio Moroder.

It was Moroder who put together the musical structure of the song, “Call Me”. When he first completed the instrumental version of the song, he approached Stevie Nicks who, like him, was one of the hottest and most sought-after personalities in the world of music. She turned him down due to recording conflicts (which, as it turned out, resulted in a song called, “Rhiannon” which, surprisingly enough, bears almost the exact same musical chord structure as does “Call Me”). So, after Nicks turned Moroder down, he went with contestant #2 and that was Deborah Harry of the group, Blondie. As you may recall from our earlier post about the song, “Heart of Glass” *(you can read that post here), Blondie rose up out of the early Punk scene in NYC and, despite their great early success with songs such as “Heart of Glass”, there was a snarling bit of punk sensibility that existed just beneath the surface of their music. Thus, one of the main feelings in the music industry was that Blondie, as a band, had no long-term future but that their lead singer, Deborah Harry, was a star in the making and, if she could be pried away from her band and launched as a solo act then, there would be a lot of money and success awaiting all concerned. So, Deborah Harry was approached by Giorgio Moroder with the instrumental track to “Call Me” and asked if she would write the lyrics and sing the song for the soundtrack to “American Gigolo”. She agreed. So, armed with Moroder’s instrumental track, as well as, the some of the early, Armani-influenced scenes from the movie, Harry set to work. It is not by accident that the opening verse to “Call Me” ended up being about the “look” of the movie, with verse #2, being about the stylish “feel” of the movie….

Colour me your colour baby,

Colour me your car.

Colour me your colour, darling,

I know who you are.

Come up off your colour chart

I know where you’re coming from…

Call me!……..

Verse #2:

Cover me with kisses, baby

Cover me with love.

Roll me in designer sheets,

I’ll never get enough….”

The producers of the film were thrilled with Deborah Harry’s song, with Giorgio Moroder’s score and with Giorgio Armani’s style and knew that they had a hit on their hands. The movie, itself, as a story being told, was never lauded as being anything that special but, because of how it was dressed and packaged, it sold well across America and helped to launch the career of Richard Gere, in the process. Gere, as it turned out, went on to follow the well-worn career path created by another handsome leading man, Robert Redford. You may recall how Redford was the eye candy in the Barbra Streisand movie, “The Way We Were”; all dressed in designer suits and white naval uniforms. Well, not too long after “American Gigolo” was released, with Gere in his designer suits, he, then, put on the naval whites for “An Officer and A Gentleman” and, not long after that, he reprised his “American Gigolo” role (except in reverse) when he starred with Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”.

In any case, “Call Me” is a lesson in product placement and in how the entertainment industry creates demand by tapping into trends. “Call Me” is a great song in, and of, itself. But, the song benefits from the very careful crafting of its’ look and sound and because of the various talented people called upon to work their own particular brand of magic. But, whatever the case, how the song came to be is irrelevant to those who bought the single and danced to it in clubs. For them, “Call Me” by Blondie is one of the greatest songs of all-time and certainly, one of the greatest movie soundtrack songs of them all, too.

So, without further delay, let me play “Call Me” for you, from the Original Motion Picture soundtrack to the movie, “American Gigolo”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Call Me” by Blondie (from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the movie, “American Gigolo”), can be found here.

The link to the official website for Blondie, can be found here.

The link to the video for the movie trailer for “American Gigolo”, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Giorgio Armani, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Giorgio Moroder, can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for helping to inspire the writing of this post. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #323: Heart of Glass by Blondie (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #323: Heart of Glass by Blondie.

First things, first……”Blondie” is the name of a band, not a person. Many people mistakenly think that lead singer, Deborah Harry is “Blondie”. The truth of the matter is, when Harry was just a teenager, she knew enough about how the world worked to know that her looks would open doors for her in life. Thus, she made the decision to dye her hair platinum blonde. She decided to take ownership of the catcalls she was receiving from men all across NYC and chose the name, “Blondie” on purpose, for the band. From that point on, her identity and the band’s identity slowly merged into one and now, like I said, many people mistakenly believe that “Blondie” is the singer, instead of being the band.

Debbie Harry formed “Blondie” with, then boyfriend, Chris Stein. They released an album that was met with positive reviews and became regular performers at NYC clubs such as CBGBs. Because of the timing of “Blondie’s” arrival on the NYC Music Scene, Deborah Harry became the face of Punk Rock in America. But, Harry and Stein had ambitions that extended beyond Punk and soon, they released an album called, “Parallel Lines” that contained songs that were influenced by disco music. One of those songs was called, “Heart of Glass”, which went on to sell over two million copies and made it all the way to #1 on the charts. “Blondie” had many other Top Ten hits in the decade that followed, including, “Maria”, “Call Me”, “The Tide is High”, “One Way or Another”, “Dreaming”, “Atomic” and “Rapture”.

The song, “Rapture” is interesting, too. One of the most notable aspects of Deborah Harry’s personality was the ease with which she made relationships with people considered to be “movers and shakers” in NYC. For example, she was great friends with artist Andy Warhol, as well as, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager (who owned Studio 54 nightclub). Because of her connection with the club, CBGBs, she was introduced to some of the pioneers of the emerging new genre of music at the time called, Hip Hop. In particular, she became friends with Hip Hop pioneer, Grandmaster Flash. Through that relationship, she began to experiment with rap-style singing and songwriting. This manifested itself in “Blondie’s” hit song, “Rapture”, which contained whole sections of rap and is often cited as the first Rap-oriented song to reach #1 on the mainstream charts.

As for “Heart of Glass”, many critics point to this song as being very important in the evolution of Electronic Dance Music. At the time of its release, there was a great debate about whether or not, Disco was “real music”. There were several “Disco sucks” rallies in which mounds of disco albums would be burned on a pyre. Then, along came, “Blondie” who, at the time, were still better known as a rock band, playing a Disco-influenced song called, “Heart of Glass”. As Harry stared into tv cameras and smiled her beautiful smile, she was almost daring people to claim that “Heart of Glass” was not a good song. A collective “gulp” was heard across America and record buyers seemed to acknowledge the fact that dance-oriented music could, actually, truly be good music. The song release happened at the same time as “Donna Summer” was releasing her big hit, “I Feel Love” and all of her dance-oriented songs that followed in her wake. Together, Donna Summer” and “Blondie” packed a one-two punch that stopped the “Disco sucks” movement in its tracks and helped pave the way for the emergence of Electronic Dance Music as a legitimate music genre.

“Blondie” has sold almost 100 million albums over the course of a career that is still active to this day. They have multiple Gold and Platinum hits and were inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. “Heart of Glass” is one hit, among many but, more importantly, it highlights Deborah Harry’s excellent sense of knowing what to do and when to do it and who to get to know in order to make things happen. She was the face of Punk in NYC, she had the first Rap-oriented #1 hit in the US and she helped establish Electronic Dance Music as a genre with “Heart of Glass”. She was an actress, an artist, a philanthropist, a writer, a singer and a friend to many. Her name is Deborah Harry. Her band is called, “Blondie”. This is one of her many hit songs, “Heart of Glass”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Blondie, can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP for playing the best music by female artists! The link to their awesome website can be found here.