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.
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