The Reluctant Pop Star

“There is no such thing as a reluctant star. Stars are almost always people that want to make up for their own weaknesses by being loved by the public and I’m no exception to that.” — George Michael, 1987.

But there is such a thing as a reluctant pop star. George Michael was no different from the many singer-songwriters desperate for critical acclaim and credibility. What made him unique was that he was willing to throw away his chance at being the biggest pop star and sex symbol in the world because he believed that his songs were good enough to sell themselves.

And in most cases, he was right.

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9th Circuit Strikes Copyright Suit Against Madonna

Harry Potter, Hawaii Five-0
Alito teased Biden, Joe.
John Fogerty, CCR,
That suit went very far.
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page
Sued over “Stairway,” despite its age.
Robin Thicke and “Blurred Lines.”
Did Harrison copy “He’s So Fine?”
They had lawyers, they had fight
Accused of violating copyright.
Matrix, Seinfeld, New Girl too.
Don’t forget the 2 Live Crew.
Plaintiffs filing lots of suits,
Defendants argue they are moot
Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it,
Vogue.

Yeah. That lede got rejected. Oh well. I thought it was clever.

Madonna prevails in plagiarism lawsuit.

The Cool Eagle Flies Away

He was the laid-back cool guy who drove his band hard to the point where one guy poured a beer over his head when he quit the band and another nearly fought him on stage. He was the soulful country-folk singer who longed to be a rock star. He was the front-man for the most transparently commercial band of its era who desperately wanted to be seen as an outlaw or rebel.

Despite all of the contradictions, one thing remained constant: Glenn Frey was the calm, reassuring singer whose sweet voice provided listeners with an escape from all of the turmoil in their lives.

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Music Was The Least Interesting Thing About David Bowie

I’ll admit it. I was never a David Bowie fan. I didn’t care for his music, nor did I really understand his appeal. I have one David Bowie song in my iTunes library – and it’s a song that’s more identified with Queen than with him.

Then I read about him.

Bowie passed away on Monday at the age of 69 after suffering from liver cancer. The news came as a shock to most people, as Bowie had kept his diagnosis private. His death has, obviously, prompted a tremendous outpouring of grief, as well as the usual assessments of his long and successful career. It was kind of a shock, actually, seeing the huge numbers of people who were sad to find out about his passing. After all, he hasn’t had a hit record in years and, arguably, hasn’t really been relevant as an artist since the 1990s. Whether it was because he kept a low profile away from the stage or because he never settled into the nostalgic oldies singer role that many of his colleagues had, most of us simply haven’t seen much of him in recent years. As such, it was easy to forget about him and the music that he continued to make up until his death (indeed, he released Blackstar the Friday before he passed away).

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Breathing Is The Hardest Thing To Do

It was easy to dismiss Scott Weiland as a second-rate Eddie Vedder fronting a second-rate grunge band in the mid-to-late 90’s. It was easier to dismiss him as a second-rate Axl Rose fronting a second-rate Guns N’ Roses during the mid-to-late 00’s. It was, perhaps, easiest of all to dismiss him as a troubled soul whose inner demons guaranteed that he’d die a premature death and go down in history as a second-rate Jim Morrison or a second-rate Kurt Cobain.

But Scott Weiland’s talent was never second-rate. Not only was he a first-rate vocalist, he was one of the best front-men of his generation.

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Album Review: “White Light” by The Corrs

White Light, the first studio album from The Corrs since 2005, is, to borrow a phrase from The Simpsons, a perfectly cromulent album. The first family of Celtic-infused pop could have used the time off to reinvent themselves and embiggen their repertoire. They could have modernized their sound. They could have experimented with different genres. Heck, they could have let violinist and background singer Sharon sing a few songs (during the last decade, both she and lead singer Andrea launched solo careers, and Sharon outsold her).

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Album Review: “Paper Gods” by Duran Duran

There are many ways to make a “comeback album.” There’s the “back-to-basics” record that countless bands and artists have done where they create an album that sounds like something they would have released during their heyday. Duran Duran did that in 2010 when they released the Mark Ronson-produced “All You Need is Now,” an album that consciously aped “Rio.” Another type of “comeback album” is the one released by a past-their-prime band or artist that is loaded with duets or collaborations with younger stars (Carlos Santana, more or less, perfected this with “Supernatural” in 1999).

Duran Duran’s latest effort, “Paper Gods,” is this a little bit of both. On the one hand, parts of the record are darker and more melancholy than most of the band’s 80’s-era catalog. Indeed, the album is more reminiscent of 1993’s “The Wedding Album,” which saw the band take a more mature and introspective approach. The title track, for instance, is over seven minutes long and contains this, fairly cynical lyric: “Bow to the Paper Gods in a world that is paper thin.” Meanwhile, the haunting “You Kill Me With Silence” is an uncomfortable listen, which makes sense considering it’s about how relationships are destroyed by a lack of communication.

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So, I Guess I’m a “Thatter” Then…

When I was in London covering Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, I could have gone to see Take That at the O2 Arena, but decided not to. I had several reasons that sounded good to me at the time. The tickets were really expensive. My wife would have killed me for going without her. It’s not the same band without Robbie (and Jason, I guess).

Oh, who am I kidding? I should have gone. Anyway, I saw this in the Manchester Evening News after I got back. According to a study (yeah, people study this kind of stuff), Thatters are more likely to be married (check!), own their own home (check!) and drink wine (well, two out of three ain’t bad).

They’re also more likely to be female. I guess Take That’s original fanbase is still upset about the band turning its backs on them all those years ago…

Album Review: “Head Job” by Phil Rudd

As Phil Rudd found out, it may be a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n roll, but it doesn’t take much to get shot down in flames. Rudd’s position as drummer for AC/DC has been on ice (Black Ice. Okay, I’ll stop.) ever since he was arrested last November for attempting to hire a hitman and possession of drugs (Chris Slade, who played drums on 1990’s The Razor’s Edge is replacing Rudd for the current tour). The murder-procurement charge was dismissed, and Rudd pleaded guilty on Tuesday to threatening to kill a former employee.

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