The name Agnetha Faltskog may not be one that stays permanently lodged in that part of the mind that seemingly captures every major pop culture moment or icon one interacts with, but her work in Abba certainly does. From “Dancing Queen” to the ongoing success of the musical Mama Mia, Faltskog has left a footprint on music history as big as Elvis or The Beatles, and to this day she continues to make great music (just like the song you’re about to hear).
Serving as the first single off the 62-year-old songstress’ upcoming album, “When You Really Loved Someone” is a heartmelting ballad that arrived today complete with a gorgeous music video. You can view the clip below.
In an interview with BBC News, Faltskog explained how producer Jorgen Elofsson coaxed her to hit the recording studio once again ” by basically ringing her doorbell and presenting three new songs to her:
It was flattering. It really was. I just couldn’t say ˜no’. I really loved the songs from the beginning. I told him, ˜we have to talk about a lot of things first. It was nine or 10 years since I’d sung, so I didn’t know if [my voice] worked. I said from the beginning, ˜if it sounds old I don’t want to do this, because¦ Why should I?’ (more…)
- Simon Cowell and Jada Pinkett-Smith are looking for the next… Skrillex?
- Disney goes post-punk.
- Diddy: “Making the Band” to major network?
- Let’s just hope there’s no wardrobe malfunctions this year…
- Get ready, Dancing Queens…here comes new music from ABBA!
- Ne-Yo is now an R&B VP of A&R! Say that three times fast…
- Wilco have cartoon co-stars!
A US Presidential election, Summer Olympics mania (London’s calling”again!), Rihanna’s film debut (in Battleship, out May 18) and the possible end of the world. Those are a few of the things I won’t be looking forward to in the coming year. Fortunately, music will offer enough thrills to distract us from all that we’d rather forget. Here’s what’s topping my 2012 anticipation list:
1. Madonna makes fiftysomething fabulous all over again. Although I’m curious to hear what Madonna does with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. on the final cut of “Gimme All Your Luvin'” when the single is released the last week of January, that’s not the main reason I’m excited about her upcoming twelfth studio album (due in late March), her first since turning fifty in 2008. “Masterpiece,” a new song featured in the Madonna-directed W.E. (which goes into wide release on February 3, two days before her Super Bowl XLVI performance) and her reunion with her Ray of Light producer William Orbit, is an achingly beautiful ballad that recalls the best of ’90s Madonna while gently proving that she can still create pop magic all on her own.
2. Madonna vs. Elton John vs. Mary J. Blige vs. Chris Cornell vs. Glenn Close (!) at the Golden Globes. Too bad the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Madonna’s “Masterpiece” from competition at the February 27 Oscars. Why? Because it’s the second song featured during the closing credits, and eligible songs must either be in the body of the film, or the tune that plays when the credits start to roll. Oscar’s loss. The January 15 Golden Globes showdown featuring five monsters of pop, rock and soul and acting will be just as star-studded”and as tough to call”as George Clooney vs. Brad Pitt vs. Leonardo DiCaprio vs. Ryan Gosling in Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
Once the domain of super-serious, straight-up cover bands like Sticky Fingers (The Stones), Crystal Ship (The Doors) and the thousands of Beatles covers bands who flourished after the Broadway musical Beatlemania made it cool to be faux, the world of tribute bands has evolved along with every other musical movement. From the weird and marginal (Mini Kiss, a band of little people who lip sync to Kiss recordings) to the ultra professional (Bjorn Again ,the highly successful traveling fake-Abba stage show), tribute bands are multiplying and diversifying.
In the post-millennial, post-irony era, it is difficult to enjoy even our guilty pleasures without some conceptual tweaking that allows us to feel that we are in on the joke. So while the more serious tribute bands continue to rake in literally millions of dollars per year from ticket sales, a whole crop of acts have emerged that combine off-kilter performance art with sing-a-long élan.
One popular trend in this direction is the stylistic mashup”like New York City’s Tragedy, who play heavy metal versions of Bee Gees songs; Beatallica, a seamless blend of thrash metal and Fab Four pop; Hoboken’s Skanatra, who apply a spirited blue-beat to the Ol’ Blue Eyes repertoire; and Hayseed Dixie, whose bluegrass renditions of hard rock classics”and elaborate fictional backstory”have kept audiences chuckling for over a decade.
An offshoot of the hybrid tribute act is the gender switch”e.g. Hell’s Belles (femme AC/DC), Deva (double-X chromosome Devo tribute), Lez Zeppelin (All girls, all Zeppelin), We Got the Meat, (Portland’s all-male Go-Go’s) and The Pretty Babies, the all-girl Blondie tribute band led by New York singer/comedienne Tammy Faye Starlite, who was an actress before she turned to musical comedy.
I like to play characters, says Starlite, who also plays Mick Jagger in the hilarious all-female Rolling Stones act, The Mike Hunt Band. I guess I’d call myself a ˜performer’”like Liza, but less sequined. And unfortunately, with fewer opiates.
Inhabiting the persona of Debbie Harry, Nico or Mick is like doing a great play. The singer is the lead character, and the songs are the lines.
Then there are the less theatrical but still high-concept acts. Former Guided By Voices member Doug Gillard (now mainly a solo artist) has recently begun playing in Bambi Kino, a Beatles tribute with a twist: their song selections and playing style directly copy the early-˜60s, Hamburg-nightclub-playing era of the band, during which their set lists were mainly pop covers and a few primitive originals. Although the group, which includes Nada Surf’s Ira Elliot, doesn’t assume fake Beatles identities, they do aim for sonic authenticity.
Says Gillard, We try to avoid more modern guitar chord voicings, licks, and drum fills in favor of period-appropriate styles”which is a challenge. There’s an appeal for us in really inhabiting the music and the era we’re playing songs from.
Aside from the artistic challenge, and the potential to make some money, what motivates tribute artists to do their thing? Singer Cathy Cervenka heads up the New York-based Cathyland rock collective, which puts together tribute shows for their favorite ˜80s artists, demonstrating both great devotion and dashes of amiable camp. A recent gig had Cervenka performing, with gusto and supple vocal skill, Pat Benatar’s breakthrough Crimes of Passion album with a strong backing band in full ˜80s spandex array.
There’s nothing more fun than getting to play your favorite songs onstage with your band, says Cervenka, for an audience of fellow fans, who know every word and guitar lick of every song.
She adds reverentially, It’s a very communal experience.
By Paula Carino
Paula Carino is a musician and writer based in New York. She’s written for AMG, American Songwriter and contributed to the Encyclopedia of Pop Music. She’s also a yoga teacher and authored the book Yoga To Go.
Danger Mouse and James Mercer get LOST on fans
Danger Mouse and Shins frontman James Mercer are set to release their first collaboration in early 2010 under the moniker Broken Bells. If that doesn’t get your indie motor running, this will: To hype up the new record, the duo has launched a mysterious viral campaign. Here’s what’s gone down so far:
Those signed up to the Broken Bells mailing list received an email last week written entirely in binary code. Translated it reads, The high road is hard to find, which is an obvious reference to one of the album’s tracks, The High Road. This week ads started popping up on various Web sites, displaying an image of two shadowy figures. The ads link to several nonsensical Web sites ” all anagrams of Broken Bells. There, listeners can hear brief snippets of streaming audio, presumably from the record.
I haven’t been this excited since finding out that Ethan Rom was an anagram for Other Man!
ABBA decks the hall
The Hall of Fame Foundation has announced that ABBA will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in March 2010. The Swedish pop group joins Brit rockers The Hollies and Genesis, Detroit rockers the Stooges and reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, who will all be inducted this year as well.
T-Pain and Andy Samberg: On a boat, with crabs
As we mentioned last week, comedy group The Lonely Island has been nominated for a GRAMMY for their duet with T-Pain, I’m On A Boat. This week Andy Samberg reunited with T-Pain for a Funny or Die sketch in which he uses the T-Pain Auto-Tune app on his iPhone to serenade a hermit crab. Funnies ensue.
For the video, click here.
Courtney Love loses custody of Frances Bean
This week a judge appointed Wendy O’Connor and Kimberly Dawn Cobain ” the mother and sister of the late Kurt Cobain ” legal guardianship of 17-year-old Frances Bean Cobain. Proving the legal system right, Courtney Love took to the interwebs to voice her frustration, posting a long rant on Facebook which she quickly deleted but not before several Web sites picked it up. Highlights include Love calling Frances Bean deluded and deceptive. Kind of makes Alec Baldwin look like Father of the Year.
Chris Brown disses Walmart, quits Twitter
Chris Brown stopped by a Walmart in Wallingford, CT and was, um, dismayed to see that the store wasn’t carrying his new record, Grafitti. So, like fellow genius Courtney Love, he voiced his concerns on the Internet, tweeting [Walmart] r blackballing my cd. Not stocking the shelves and lying to customers. What the f”k I gotta do. [sic] Walmart responded that they were, in fact, selling his CD across the country, including the Wallingford location. Brown then deleted his Twitter account. Now if only Love would do the same ¦
Rihanna goes topless for GQ
More classiness for you. Begs the question, why is this a headline? A more newsworthy story would be Rihanna keeps her shirt on for photo shoot.
- Stephen Colbert sings “Empire State of Mind” with Alicia Keys
- Amazon accidentally leaks new L’il Wayne album
- New Erykah Badu album in the works
- Elvis Costello and U2 mash up
- Google teams with National for new ad