Don’t Make Me Wait.

This is one of my very favorite dance tracks from the 1990s. The syncopated piano, the lead vocals by Rachel MacFarlane, the backup vocals by Mae McKenna and Miriam Stockley (you’ve heard them on Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue records), just the vibe of the song has always made me happy.

From 1995 here’s Loveland with “Don’t Make Me Wait”.

Warbly.

I’m at Starbucks playing around with my iPad Pro, writing blog entries, and doing some general people watching. Before I dive into the original intent of this blog entry, I’m confused by a woman using a MacBook Pro nearby. There’s like little feet on the bottom of it and there’s no Apple logo on the lid. I can easily tell it’s a MacBook. It’s Rose Gold, when I glanced at her screen I could see the familiarity of Mac OS, etc., but for the life of me I can’t figure out what model of Mac she’s using.

Anyway.

Starbucks pipes in music to maintain a certain vibe in their locations. Because everything integrated through magic, one can check the Starbucks app to see what song is playing at your particular location at any given time. It’s a generally nifty thing.

The app revealed the song was called “Friends” by Big Gigantic featuring Ashe. Being old and out of touch I know nothing about Big Gigantic or Ashe, however, I can speak to her vocal stylings. In the Fox-run American Idol days in the earlier 2000s and first half of this decade, screaming and trying to sound like Whitney Houston (above or below water, didn’t matter), Mariah Carey (New Year’s Eve notwithstanding), or Christina Aguilera (where the stars are reaming) was the expectation of the time. Pop music has apparently shifted to a phase where singers now kind of keep their mouth closed, don’t project at all, and sort of mumble or warble. Since starting this blog entry a couple of different songs have cycled through the playlist and they all have this warbly, nasally, whiny, uninterested quality to their voice. Honestly, it’s hard to tell if there’s emotion because there’s so much technological crap thrown onto the production it barely resembles anything a human could naturally sing. However, the robotic yodeling has this “I’m not trying hard” quality to it that to me seems really contrived.

I’m starting to sound cranky.

I’m 51 years old, and despite the amount of cosmetic surgery being overlaid onto Gen X, I’m not a young guy who’s suppose to groove on the latest tracks on the local Kiss-FM station. I’m not in the target audience. When I was in radio in my younger days, we would guess the age of requests coming into the studio and rate accordingly. Part of the formula for a 44+ male request at a Top 40 station was worth half a point. A female was always worth at least a full point, but if they were in the coveted 18-34 range a request could be worth as much as eight points. To put it in perspective, I would have to request The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” 16 times in a week for me to have the same impact as one request for the same song from a 30-year old woman named Maria.

So I get that the warbly, disinterested vocal quality isn’t aimed at me.

What I’m curious about is whether the record companies are trying to get these performers to sing this way on purpose, or if they’re all copying each other, or if there’s been some Evolutionary Shift in the throat construction of Generation Z (apparently dubbed “Generation Z” because they’re the last generation).

Thankfully we’ve moved to a different type of vocalist by this point in the blog entry. This music is called “Neo-Disco”, but in my day we called it “Disco”. I guess using software instruments and auto-tune requires the prefix “Neo”.

Now get off my walkman.

Never Can Say Goodbye.

One of my very favorite tracks to spin as a club DJ is “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Communards. I would usually put it toward the end of the night and it would almost always fill the dance floor, in fact, it’s one of the very first songs I ever played as a club DJ. Jimmy Somerville’s soaring falsetto vocals are fun and when married with the impressive orchestration, the collaboration makes for (in my opinion) a superior version of a song that was previously recorded by Gloria Gaynor and The Jacksons.

As I watched this video today, I couldn’t help but feel like the old guy in the room in that the folks dancing and having a great time to this song are smiling, the tempo is upbeat, and the mood of the track is jovial. Going to a club today there’s a lot of down-tempo angry-sound lyrics, darkness, and way too much auto-tune. In the 80s we had fairies, today we have zombies.

Both Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles were out gay men back in the mid-late 1980s while they were collaborating for The Communards. This is before being out was a mainstream thing and parents were throwing coming out parties for their junior high school aged children.

Wow, I do sound like the old guy in the room.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this track as much as I do. Full confession: Richard Coles is probably one of the first guys I ever had crush on and even watching the video today I have to admit I find him wicked cute.

I do like the nerdy type from time to time.

 

Romantic.

I’ve always been a big fan of this song. Produced by Jam and Lewis, here’s Karyn White and “Romantic” from 1991.

Cross My Broken Heart.

From the very beginning of my club DJ days, from 1987 here’s The Jets with “Cross My Broken Heart”.

The Jets are the eight oldest siblings (of 17) of the Wolfgramm family from Minneapolis, originally from Tonga. I was curious as to what they’re up to these days, some of them are still performing and they actually sound pretty darn close to how they sounded 30+ years ago.

This used to mix brilliantly into Madonna’s “Causing A Commotion”.

I Like You.

It’s Wednesday night. It’s summer and it’s time to dance. From 1985, here’s “I Like You” by Phyllis Nelson. One of my favorites from my DJ days.

Realness.

From one of her final live performances, here’s Donna Summer singing “MacArthur Park” live. Real instruments. Real vocals from the backup singers. And a breathtaking performance from Donna.

This is why I hate today’s pop performers and their over reliance on AutoTune.

You Need To Calm Down.

I’m haven’t really been fan of Taylor Swift, but this song is catchy, has a positive message, and a groovy video. We need more people like her in the world.

Yumi Zouma.

Photo courtesy of Yumi Zouma’s website.

It’s been over a decade since I’ve really fallen in love with any music, but the New Zealand group Yumi Zouma has created some of the best music I’ve heard in decades.

I love this group. Give them a listen (link to Apple Music).