Today’s Top 40: October 5, 2022.

The songs featured below were all found on the Top 40 charts of the following music-oriented organizations: BBC Radio 1, CHUM-FM and Indie88-FM (from Toronto), Spotify, Billboard Magazine and KEXP-FM (from Seattle). All songs featured were found in the Top 5 of their respective charts for this past week. ***Because there are some repeat songs in this list that have appeared in previous posts, I am going to go into slightly greater depth for the songs that are new to this series this week. However, I will link to the past articles so you can enjoy those stories again or read them anew if you missed them the first time around. Here we go!

Late Night Talking by Harry Styles (CHUM-FM).

Harry Styles.

***This song was profiled in a previous post that you can read here.

Bad Habit by Steve Lacey (Billboard Magazine).

Steve Lacey.

***This song was profiled in a previous post that you can read here.

Unholy by Sam Smith and Kim Petras (BBC Radio 1 and Spotify)

Kim Petras and Sam Smith.

The song “Unholy” by Sam Smith and Kim Petras is a song that first gained momentum via the social media app TikTok. Both Smith and Petras have a strong social media presence and are followed by millions of viewers because of their music but equally for their position as role models for the LGBTQ2s+ community. Petras is from German and is a transsexual singer whose transformation from male to female was made completely in the public eye. Petras allowed each stage of her transition to be made public so that people could see that feeling trapped in the “wrong” body isn’t something that happens in isolation. Petras hoped to inspire others who were feeling lost in their bodies to summon the courage to be their true selves. Sam Smith is a singer from the UK who has won multiple Grammy awards for songs such as “Stay With Me”. He is very much known as a crooner. However, on social media, he has long been a very high profile Gay entertainment figure. In recent times, Smith has gone further and declared himself to actually be non-binary. So, the fact that one of Europe’s leading transsexual entertainers has teamed up to sing with one of the UK’s leading non-binary entertainers is news, in and of itself.

The song “Unholy” is a dark, pulsating song about living secret lives and the impact on those who are aware of such secrets and those who aren’t. The song is specifically about a man who has been frequenting a strip joint made famous by the show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. In the song, the man who attends these strip shows does so in secret. However, his daughter happens to see him there and thus, possesses a secret that she doesn’t wish to know because of the implications it has on the stability of her family life as she presently knows it. The daughter acts as the narrator of the song. While the song describes the dramatic scene that it does, Petras and Smith are also singing about their own lives and the cost associated with being forced to live their true lives in secret. As we know, they have bucked that trend themselves so this song is meant for the many others who live lives of emotional anguish, unable to be who they see themselves as being. For me “Unholy” falls into that category where sometimes a song is more than just a song. For Smith and Petras, “Unholy” is akin to leaving a light on at the porch. For those struggling in silence, “Unholy” means seeing that porch light and knowing that they have found their way home.

***The link to the lyrics version of this song can be found here.

Belize by Danger Mouse, Black Thoughts ft. MF DOOM (KEXP-FM).

Black Thought and Danger Mouse.

When it comes to Hip Hop, the pickings are either a feast or famine proposition for me. I am not a fan at all of the profanity-laced, overtly sexualized music that passes for much of what is considered Rap music these days. When it comes to Hip Hop, I tend to be more likely to go old school and listen to the sample-rich, jazz-influenced Hip Hop of performers such as DJ Shadow and his magnificent “Midnight in a Perfect World” *(which you can read about here). “Belize” by Danger Mouse, Black Thoughts and MF DOOM mines similar terrain. It is a beautiful sounding song that I could listen to for the background music samples alone. This is the type of song that I like to listen to in the dark, where each snippet of music can shine like the star that it is in this firmament. Good Hip Hop for me is also music in which the linguistic dexterity of the performers is allowed to be showcased in such a way that their skill as rappers is not overshadowed by the shock-content and vulgarity of the lyrics. MF DOOM puts on a masterclass of controlled rapping all throughout “Belize”. I know that for some of you, Hip Hop is not your cup of tea. Much of what I hear today doesn’t do much for me, either but “Belize” is different. It stands out from noise because it is a throwback song that honours the roots of Hip Hop and of Black musical culture. When I listen to music such as this, I hear poetry. I hear history.

***I am not sure if a lyrics version exists for this song but, if it does, you can find it here.

News Update: Lizzo Plays a Crystal Flute.

Lizzo playing James Madison’s crystal flute at The Library of Congress.

I am a big fan of Lizzo. She is someone with a razor-sharp mind. Lizzo knows her history and often uses her platform as a singer to make historical connections for her audiences. *(You can read about how she does this in a previous post that you can find here). Anyway, you may have heard about something Lizzo did recently in a live concert that has garnered a lot of attention from those on both sides of the political spectrum. A while ago, Lizzo was permitted to examine historically significant musical artifacts that were being stored in the Library of Congress. Being a lover of history and being someone who is passionate about cultural connections and the significance of stories on shaping identities, Lizzo was intrigued by a crystal flute that had once belonged to former US President James Madison. Lizzo was aware that Madison was connected to the odious practice of slavery. She also knew that, as a woman of colour, not only touching his flute but actually breathing into it and bringing it to life, musically speaking, would make a statement on so many levels. So, Lizzo was given permission to play Madison’s flute live, in concert. And so she did. Being the multi-instrumentalist that she is, Lizzo was able to make lovely sounds come out of the historic crystal flute. The symbolism of what she was doing was not lost on those who champion human rights. From those people, Lizzo was lauded as being a hero to the cause of civil rights in America. To those on the political right, touching a former president’s delicate crystal flute amounted to sacrilege.

While Lizzo stood on that stage, making beautiful music come out of an ancient instrument, she was connecting the dots for those who believe that the past matters and that there are stories that need to be told from the past so that we may all have a better tomorrow. She did this without raising her fists or her voice. She simply stood on a stage and played and smiled. There is power in simplicity. LIzzo wields her power well.

***The link to a video of Lizzo playing the crystal flute can be found here.

News Update #2: The L.A. version of the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert.

Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters checks in on 16 year old Shane Hawkins, son of former drummer, Taylor Hawkins, during a blistering rendition of “My Hero” in Los Angeles.

Three weeks after putting on a concert for the ages at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Dave Grohl managed to put together another stellar musical celebration of life for his dear and departed friend, Taylor Hawkins. This time, the concert was held in Los Angeles. The lineup included everyone from Alanis Morissette with “You Oughta Know”, to Heart with “Barracuda”, to Rush with “YYZ”, Wolfgang Van Halen ripping through his father’s hits, “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”, Def Leppard blasting through “Photograph” and “Rock of Ages” with Miley Cyris by their side and, of course, plenty of Foo Fighters music all the way through. The highlight on this night was the same as it was at Wembley Stadium…when Taylor Hawkins’ son, Shane took his place behind the drum kit and pounded out “My Hero” along with the rest of the Foo Fighters, who repeated their caring and tenderhearted handling of Shane by constantly coming back to play alongside him as the song went on. I am not sure what Dave Grohl is going to do to top these two concerts but, whatever it is, I have faith it will be epic!

***You can watch the video of Shane Hawkins ripping it up on “My Hero” here.

Stonecatcher by Marcus Mumford ft. Phoebe Bridgers (Indie88-FM).

Phoebe Bridgers and Marcus Mumford.

Our final song of the day goes to Marcus Mumford. You may know him as the lead singer of the folk-rock juggernaut, Mumford and Sons. “Stonecatcher” comes from his debut solo album entitled, Self-Titled. The fact that he collaborated with my current favourite female singer Phoebe Bridgers made this a must-listen to song for me.

I have always liked Mumford and Sons from their very first album called Sigh No More. I have always found their music to be rousing, anthemic and very literate. My introduction to their work came when I discovered a video of the band performing a live version of their song, “The Cave” at the 2010 Reading Music Festival. *(You can watch that performance here). That performance was one of the most joyous videos I have ever witnessed. At that moment in their career, Mumford and Sons were just breaking as a major band. So, when they launch into the opening notes of “The Cave” and the audience instantly sings along, you can see the genuine expressions of joy on their faces. I dare anyone watching this to not leave the song smiling at the end. It is truly wonderful! Since then, Mumford and Sons have had a slew of hits such as “Little Lion Man”, “I Will Wait” and “Believe”. They have won Grammy Awards and many Brit Awards, too. One of the things I have always liked about Mumford and Sons is how literate they are. Their songs draw from Shakespeare, James Joyce as well as P.K. Chesterton. But before any of you come away with the impression that Mumford and Sons are a bookish, boring band because of the sources for many of their songs, let me tell you another thing about them. They very much believe in bringing music to everyone, not just those who can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a seat at a stadium. In the true spirit of being troubadours, Mumford and Sons make it a point to include smaller, more out of the way locations whenever they are touring. An example is that they played a two day festival in Simcoe, Ontario a few years ago. The world is filled with Simcoe-esque festivals and Mumford and Sons attempt to play at as many of them as they can.

The song, “Stonecatcher” comes from a story in the Bible. If you know your Bible stories at all, you will know that Jesus was portrayed as being a man who preached peace and compassion and love for all people. He was viewed by the authorities as being a troublemaker so the story goes that one day they decided to set him up and expose him as a fraud in front of his followers. The authorities did this by bringing a woman accused of adultery into the town square. The punishment for adultery was stoning to death. Jesus was brought to the square and was asked to denounce this woman and her crime of adultery and then to cast the first stone at her. The authorities were banking on Jesus refusing to cast the stone, at which time they would declare him as being in favour of such immoral behaviour as adultery. However, when Jesus was handed the stone, he simply turned and faced the crowd that had gathered and challenged anyone without sin to cast that first stone. When no one stepped forward, the implications were clear. No one was without sin. Since no one, including Jesus, would cast a stone, the authorities were forced to release the woman. From that point onward, people who stand up for the oppressed and stop or limit pain and discomfort have become known as stonecatchers.

When Marcus Mumford decided to put together a solo album, it wasn’t because he was thinking of leaving Mumford and Sons. It was because he had things that he wanted to say that seemed too personal to issue under the banner of the band. One of the things he wanted to address was the fact that he had suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child. Mumford claims that there was no one there to help him when the pain was his to bear. So, he decided to create an album to discuss the impact that abuse has had on him and those in his life. The song, “Stonecatcher” specifically addresses a promise that he is making to the world. Mumford promises that he will be a better person to others in need than others were to him as a child. He sings of wishing to be a stonecatcher for other abuse victims. That he is able to do this all the while harmonizing with the incomparable Phoebe Bridgers is an added bonus.

So, I will close by urging us all to be stonecatchers for those in our lives. Letting no one suffer on my watch is a promise and a pledge I make willingly and completely. If you feel so willing then, I urge you to do likewise in your world. This is how we make things better.

***The link to the lyrics version of this song can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #11: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. (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 #11: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.

Compared to many of the songs that comprise this countdown, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana seems like a new song. But, in reality, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was released in 1992…..which was thirty years ago! Not exactly hot off of the musical presses but, at the same time, I challenge you to find a song as impactful and important in these last thirty years as this song was. If this countdown was restricted to the last quarter-century only, I would have no doubt that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be Song #1 on the list. It is just that good and just that important in the grand scheme of things. The story of how the song came to be, the impact it had on the music scene at the time and how it changed the lives of those involved, going forward, is, essentially, the story of modern music, itself, since 1990. So, make yourself comfortable because here comes the story of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and why it is such a special song. Let’s go!

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the lead track on Nirvana’s second album, “Nevermind”. A band’s second album is often a pivotal one in their evolution. There have been many, many artists and bands who worked for years, compiling a list of good, tight songs that ended up on a debut album that, in turn, caught the fancy of listeners and critics, alike. However, there are just as many bands who emptied their creative tank into Album #1 and then, found themselves shooting blanks when it came time to create new material for Album #2. Nirvana was a band that followed the initial course of things by releasing their first album called, “Bleach”. This album was raw and energetic and loud and filled with great lyrics that proved that writer, Kurt Cobain was, perhaps, more than just a young screamer and that Nirvana was, in fact, more than just the latest young band to burst forth in the Seattle area when that music scene that set to explode.

Many of the fans who discovered Nirvana during the “Bleach” days loved them because their music was so rough and unpolished and yet, so filled with intelligence and meaning. As a band, Nirvana eschewed corporate leanings, in favour of raw, pure musicianship. The members of the band, (Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl) were pragmatic enough to know that they wanted their music to pay the bills but, they also knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that they wanted to control their message and produce Art on their terms and, if that meant producing music as found on “Bleach” then, so be it. That attitude was embraced by fans who would end up helping to create a new genre of music called, “Grunge”.

Bands who fell under the “Grunge” umbrella were anti-corporate by nature. But, a funny thing happened on the way to Grunge becoming popular with the kids, corporations took notice and came calling. As with any movement that exists in a pure, unsullied form, Corporate America saw Grunge as an untapped marketplace and set about to commodify it. It was against this backdrop that Nirvana released their all-important second album, “Nevermind”. “Nevermind” was produced by a professional producer named Butch Vig. It wasn’t that Vig set out to lead Nirvana into the waiting arms of Corporate America but, he did lend his expertise to the band in ways that helped polish their production values and hence, the overall quality of their sound. It was this collection of songs with “better” production values that caused them to be viewed as more “radio friendly”. The first of these songs to be released was, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was written while Kurt Cobain was dating Tobi Vail, one of the lead singers of Riot Grrrl headliners, Bikini Kill. The story is that Vail liked to wear “Teen Spirit” deodorant. One day, Vail’s bandmate, Kathleen Hanna, was teasing Cobain that he smelled like Vail…..that she had marked him with her scent……and so, Hanna took a marker and wrote on a wall in Cobain’s bedroom that “Kurt smells like Teen Spirit, man”. Apparently, Cobain was unaware that Teen Spirit was a deodorant and, instead, thought that Hanna was complimenting him on being in sync with the youth of the day and their sensibilities. So, he was inspired to write the song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as sort of an ode to the restlessness and disaffected nature of youth at that time in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

This song, specifically but, also, much of Nirvana’s sound, in general, was mirrored after bands like The Pixies, who mastered the loud-soft-loud style of songwriting and performing. *(You can read about The Pixies and their massive influence on bands such as Nirvana, here). At one point, Cobain was worried that they sounded a bit too much like The Pixies and would, in fact, be viewed as merely ripping them off. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” does follow the loud-soft-loud aesthetic of The Pixies quite closely. However, when the song was officially released, that didn’t seem to matter. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves and was a huge success almost immediately. Much of the support initially came from “College Radio” and from the local Seattle scene. But, most of the groundswell of interest came from people like me, who were being introduced to Nirvana for the first time via this song.

When I first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, I was impressed by the ferocious drumming, as well as, the intensity of the song as it ramped up out its quiet sections. I was impressed and began following the band more closely after that. However, therein lay the conundrum for Nirvana and their true fans. Many of the fans that first supported Nirvana did so because of the rawness of their album, “Bleach”. They ended up being disappointed because “Nevermind” seemed too polished and professional; with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” not being raw and primal but, instead, having committed the sin of being over-produced. The band was not directly accused of selling out to corporate interests but, at the same time, true fans were disappointed that Nirvana had released a song such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

For the band, the success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” thrust them clearly to the very forefront of the Grunge scene and, as such, they were deemed as being the spokespeople for an entire generation known as Gen Z. Having a pulpit from which to pontificate was the furthest thing from Kurt Cobain’s mind. He thought it was all ludicrous and pushed back against the attention by accelerating his drug use. At the same time, the band noticed that when they played live, they were seeing fewer and fewer of their original fans and more and more of a crowd who were there to see the “next big thing” because they were followers of trends more than of Art. Suddenly, Nirvana, who had always prided themselves as being pure artists and anti-corporate at their core, found themselves in a media feeding frenzy, alienated from the roots of their scene and they became miserable.

There are many artists who seek out the bright lights and the big stages but, Kurt Cobain was not really one of them. He enjoyed writing songs, playing music and being with likeminded people. But, he did not enjoy the fame and the way his music would become a business venture for many people, more interested in sales figures and advertising opportunities than in the messages contained in the lyrics scribbled in Cobain’s notebooks. For Kurt Cobain, Teen Spirit was never a product to be marketed. It was an ideal that spoke to him and that he, by extension, wanted to share with others who felt left out of the flow of mainstream life, as he did. Kurt Cobain was never the popular man on campus. He was always an outsider. In fact, he acted more like a feminist….being drawn to, and supporting, strong women, like the girls in Bikini Kill *(who you can read about here) and mentor and muse, Patti Smith. The more I have read about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, the less I am surprised that, in the time after his death by suicide, the best covers of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” were all performed by strong women such as Smith and Tori Amos. The real person that Cobain was seemed to be was someone able to tap into that feminine sensibility and that is, arguably, more in tune with the man he thought he was and that he wanted to continue to become, above all else.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” raced into the #1 chart position and helped make Nirvana the biggest band in the world at the time. All of this attention shook Cobain. Nirvana managed to record one more album called, “In Utero” which was more introspective than “Nevermind” but still, filled with great songs. When the news of Cobain’s suicide was announced on TV, it had the same impact for those in Generation Z, as the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon did for Boomers. It felt as though an entire genre of great music had been cancelled all at once. Other Grunge bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains had some moderate success but only Pearl Jam had any lasting fame and, even with them, they are mostly touring and playing old material now, like so many other nostalgia acts out there. The spirit of Grunge seems to have fizzled out with Cobain’s death which, if you really look at it, was attributable to having achieved too much success to begin with. Which leaves “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, despite its’ enormous success, as actually having quite a complicated legacy.

I, for one, still think this song really rocks. In particular, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was my introduction to Dave Grohl. His drumming on this song blew my mind! What ferocity and power! His personality, which shone in comparison to the introverted, Cobain, has always attracted me and I have faithfully followed his career, as he transitioned from Nirvana and the tragedy of his friend, Kurt’s death, to finding new success as lead singer/guitar player of today’s biggest band, Foo Fighters. Amazingly enough, poor Dave Grohl suffered another music-related tragedy just recently, with the death of Foo Fighters drummer, and Grohl’s new best friend, Taylor Hawkins. It is almost too much loss to be believed for Grohl. As I write these words, Foo Fighters have cancelled all remaining tour dates. My wish is for Dave Grohl to be alright and to achieve some semblance of emotional peace in the days and weeks to come.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains the song that is the face of an entire genre of music. No amount of sad consequences can alter the fact that this song was the most important and impactful song to emerge in the last quarter-century. It is a song that still packs a punch that is undeniably loud and forceful. It stands as the only song on my personal playlist for which albinos and mosquitos play a prominent role. It is the only song I love that was inspired…even if it was unintentionally… an underarm deodorant. It is “Smells Like Teen Spirit”……there is nothing else like it in this countdown. Please enjoy it in all of its glory.

The link to the video for the song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, can be found here.

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

The link to the video for the song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, as covered by Tori Amos, can be found here.

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

The link to the video for the song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, as covered by Patti Smith, can be found here.

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

Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for being located at the scene of one of the best music scenes in history. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #15: Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen (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 #15: Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie.

“Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie is one of those songs that just about everyone seems to really like. In fact, I can’t think of a single soul who dislikes this song. If you happen to be that outlier then, stand up, speak out and be prepared to explain yourself. Then, be prepared to the scorn and ridicule that will surely come your way! How can anyone not like this song?! It is the a song born from the union of two of Rock’s biggest names, Queen and David Bowie. It is as powerful and dramatic a song as there has ever been performed; its’ subject matter merely the state of the pressure we live under in this life and what can be done about it all. It is a crowd-pleasing, stadium-rocking anthem that has given rise to some of the best live concert moments in rock history. The song is “Under Pressure”. Let’s find out all about it.

The story goes that Queen were in Switzerland working on songs for a new album. They had a song they were working on called, “Feel Like” that was coming along ok but just wasn’t right yet. As luck would have it, in the same town of Montreux that they were staying at, David Bowie, also, happened to be in town, (he actually lived not too far away). So, a call went out to see if he wanted to pop by and hang out with the band for awhile. He did. They all started jamming away and having fun. Eventually, Freddy Mercury asked Bowie if he felt like helping them on their new album now they were all warmed up and, perhaps, just see what would happen. So, bassist John Deacon began to play the familiar opening bass line to “Under Pressure”. It was merely a baseline at that point. But, it served as inspiration for Bowie and Queen and away they went. According to guitarist Brian May, working with an inspired Bowie was difficult, in a way, because both he and Freddy Mercury both had a vision for how the song that became “Under Pressure” should be written and constructed and that there was a lot of alpha-male butting of heads involved before it all came together as we know it to be. But, work it out, they did. The result was the glorious song we all know as, “Under Pressure”.

But, there are a couple of facts about the song that many people misinterpret or, flat out, get wrong. First of all, David Bowie and Queen never ever performed “Under Pressure” together live. Not long after the song/album was released, Queen went on tour. David Bowie, meanwhile, stayed back in Switzerland, working on the songs for his next album, “Let’s Dance” and then, he went out on a world wide tour. By the end of it, Freddy Mercury’s health went into decline and he died not long after. The very first time that David Bowie performed “Under Pressure” with Queen was when he sang it with Annie Lennox at the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium in London.

The second often misconstrued fact is that despite how it appears at first blush, “Under Pressure” in not a duet. Sure, there are two singers singing but, the structure of “Under Pressure” is such that it is not actually a duet at all. What the song is, is actually a two-person play or even, a musical debate. The concept of the song is two people debating about the nature of being alive in the world. One person (Bowie) takes on the pessimistic role and sings about everyone being under pressure. Freddy Mercury takes on the opposing role as the person who champions love as a solution to what ails the planet. A good example of the interplay that goes on throughout the song can be seen in this snippet from the song:

“FM: Love, love, love, love, love

DB: Insanity laughs under pressure, we’re breaking!

FM: Why can’t we give ourselves one more chance? Why can’t we give love that one more chance? Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love…….

DB: ‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word. And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night and love (FM: people on streets) dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.

FM: This is our last dance.

DB: This is our last dance.

FM/DB: This is ourselves……….under pressure……….under pressure………….pressure.”

As mentioned, Freddy Mercury and David Bowie never performed this song together on stage. They recorded their vocal tracks separately in studio. It was only during the final recording process that their voices were brought together on tape and the magic happened.

Queen sang this song as part of their standard setlist throughout the remainder of their touring days; with Freddy Mercury doing all of the parts. Bowie never sang this song as part of his setlist until after Freddy Mercury had died. And then, Bowie still sang only his original lines, with a back-up singer filling in for Mercury.

But, as we all know, this song spawned some memorable covers. The best known is the Bowie/Lennox cover at the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert. But, a second cover has come to the fore and taken on extra poignancy lately. That cover was by the recently deceased drummer for the Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins. The Foo Fighters were known for throwing covers of well-known songs into their own sets when playing live. One of the songs that they liked to do was “Under Pressure”. Whenever it came time to perform this song, Hawkins would leave his drum kit and come to centre stage. Lead singer, dave Grohl, would leave the stage and play drums. Then, Hawkins would team up with the lead singer of whoever opened for them tat night and they would launch into a cool “Foo Fighters’ version of “Under Pressure”. Well, as many of you know, Taylor Hawkins, who was such a good drummer and such a happy, positive person, died unexpectedly recently at the young age of 50. One of the last songs he played with the Foo Fighters was “Under Pressure”.

So, when it comes time for the videos, I am going to showy four!!!! The first will be the original lyrics video that acted as the official video for many years, since there was never a live video to record. The second video will be one where Freddy Mercury and Queen perform the song on their own, with Freddy Mercury’s trademark showmanship and pizzazz. The third video will be the iconic Bowie/Lennox version, which I adore. The chemistry between those two was phenomenal that day. A complete home run of a performance. Finally, I will share Taylor Hawkins and the Foo Fighters covering this great song.

So, without further delay, here is “Under Pressure” written by Queen and David Bowie and performed by a cast of thousands, or so it seems. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the lyrics version of the song, “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Under Pressure” as performed by Queen, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Under Pressure”, as covered by David Bowie and Annie Lennox during The Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Under Pressure”, as covered by Taylor Hawkins of The Foo Fighters, can be found here. ***The drummer here, Rufus Taylor, is the son of the original Queen drummer, Roger Taylor.

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

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

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

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

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

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: Song #479…Everlong by Foo Fighters (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #479: Everlong by The Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl is absolutely everywhere these days! The lead singer of the rock group, Foo Fighters, is arguably the biggest name in Rock music today. His band has just released their 11th studio album called Medicine at Midnight. Over the course of their career, the Foo Fighters have won 11 Grammy Awards, released a whopping 56 singles (!) and sold over 30 million albums worldwide. In between Foo Fighter albums and shows, Dave Grohl has collaborated with a veritable Whos-Who of musicians including Lemmy from Motorhead, pop-crooner, Rik Astley, as well as, headlining an all-star version on “Times Like These” with many new, young UK singers.

Dave Grohl got into music as a drummer. He was drawn toward the punk scene near his childhood home on the outskirts of Washington. In the late 80s, he came to the attention of Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, who were looking for a new drummer for their band, Nirvana. Dave proved to be the final puzzle piece for Nirvana and was present for all of their greatest moments as a band. When singer Kurt Cobain took his own life, it affected Dave Grohl deeply. For awhile, he was sure that he would never play professionally again.

But, he is a prodigious talent and soon found his creative energies overtaking his melancholy state. Dave began working alone and managed to produce an entire album-worth of songs, with him playing all of the parts. He passed cassettes of his new songs around to his friends for fun. Soon, these songs came to the attention of a record label and Dave was urged to record them professionally. He did so under the moniker, “Foo Fighters” in order to hide his identity. *The term, “Foo Fighter” refers to US pilots who seek out UFOs whenever they are “spotted”. Dave began delegating roles to others; Pat Smear, “fourth member of Nirvana” came on board to play guitar. Taylor Hawkins left Alanis Morrisette’s band to play drums. Dave left the drum kit and moved to the front of the stage to be lead singer and guitarist. Other members joined the band and the official version of The Foo Fighters was born.

The song, “Everlong” has become the band’s most requested and most played song. It is often the song they use to close their concerts. “Everlong” was a Top Ten hit when it was released in 1997. The video for the song was nominated for multiple MTV Awards in 1998. A final noteworthy aspect of “Everlong” is that it was the song chosen by talk show host, David Letterman, as the song he wanted played on his final show. The Foo Fighters played live in his studio, as a retrospective of Letterman’s career played on screen. In 2014, Dave Grohl was inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as drummer for Nirvana. This year, in 2021, The Foo Fighters look like good bets to be inducted as a group, too. This would make Dave Grohl a two-time inductee and help him join an exclusive club of multiple winners inducted for two different groups such as Jimmy Page (Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin), Ronnie Wood (The Small Faces/The Rolling Stones), David Crosby (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash), Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield/Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Sammy Strain (The O’Jays/Little Anthony and the Imperials).

So, for your listening and viewing pleasure, I present one of the hardest-working, most charismatic and most talented performers in Rock n’ Roll today, Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters! Enjoy.

The link to the music video for Everlong by Foo Fighters can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

The link to David Letterman’s final show before retirement (featuring musical guests, Foo Fighters) can be found here.

Needless today, Foo Fighters have an awesome website. Feel free to check it out by clicking here.

Finally, thanks to KEXP for creating their list of the greatest songs of all-time and helping to inspire me to create my own posts. 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. ©2021