pMad – Single Review: “Sisters”

pMad is the solo music project of Irish singer-songwriter Paul Dillon, a lifelong lover of music who’s been involved in songwriting and performing for years. Based in County Galway, Paul was previously a member of the bands Starve the Barber and The Suicidal Dufflecoats, and currently a member of The Greeting, as well as his project pMad. His eclectic sound, which is a dramatic and fascinating blend of darkwave, post-punk, alternative and goth rock, is heavily influenced by some of his favorite acts like The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Sonic Youth, Suicidal Tendencies, The The and Tom Waits.

When the pandemic lockdowns impacted his and just about every other artists’ ability to make and perform music, Paul created a “The Best of Irish Indie” page on Facebook, in which he ran a series of ‘Best of Irish’ polls. The response was so positive, he was newly energized and inspired to rework and record some of his previously-written songs, along with some newly-written ones. Without ever being in the same room together, he took advantage of modern recording technologies to create a number of singles remotely in collaboration with Zedakube Recording (Ireland), Protonaut Studio (Germany) and Elith Mastering Labs (Mexico). He released his debut single “Who Am I” last December, then followed in February with “Medicine”, and “Broken” in April (which I reviewed in a Fresh New Tracks post). He subsequently dropped a six-track EP Broken in May, featuring four songs and two remixes, then another single “Horror” in June, and today returns with his latest single “Sisters“. 

Like most of pMad’s songs, it’s dark, brooding and intense, but I loved “Sisters” upon my first listen. Even my husband, who’s not much into goth or alternative rock, liked it the moment he heard it. What a magnificent song it is, driven by a deep, chugging bassline, and awash in ominous darkwave synths, layered guitars and pulsating drums. There are so many brilliant instrumental textures and elements, such as the contrasting shimmery and gnarly, reverb-soaked guitars and dramatic swirling synths, all creating a darkly beautiful cinematic soundscape for pMad’s arresting monotone vocals that come across as simultaneously menacing and hopeful.

About “Sisters”, pMad says it speaks of “those we love gone too soon. They don’t go away very far, they walk beside us every day… having left such an impression on us! They are still loved, still missed and a very important influence on our lives.” He elaborated further in an interview for the NenesButler Presents Music blog: “The inspiration for ‘Sisters’ was my youngest sister Keira who just dropped dead one day! Too young and too good to die, yet she did. We mourned, but the world will spin with you or without you. So, life goes on but she left an indelible mark in my life, like my father and relations and friends that have died. She was a cool, calm character and had some great sayings and thoughts on life. Of course, like me and any of us, she was not perfect, and had a few of her own demons to conquer too. She always saw the good in people, [and] the one great thing she always said, if someone was mean to her or anyone, was ‘be kind to them, you don’t know what they are going through right now’.

“Sisters” is fantastic, and I think it’s the best single released yet by pMad! He plans on dropping more singles in the coming months, and his album Who Why Where What is scheduled for release in November.

The fabulous artwork for the single was created by Little Bird Design.

Follow pMad:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase:  BandcampAmazon

EML’s Favorite Songs – “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Jane Child

I was reminded about the great song “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Child the other day when my friend Dale tagged me in a tweet about it. The song was released in January 1990 as the second single from Child’s self-titled debut album Jane Child, and was a huge hit, spending three weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 that April (it was kept from the top spot by Tommy Page’s “I’ll Be Your Everything” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”). I’ve always loved the song, which is one of my top 10 favorite tracks of 1990.

Child’s rather quirky fashion style back then, which included a hairstyle that was spiked on top with ankle-length braids, along with a rather imposing nose chain piercing, was inspired by her love for African and East Indian cultures, as well as the punk movement. Child wrote “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” shortly after having relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. The song, along with all the tracks on Jane Child, was solely written and produced by Child, who also sang all the vocals and played all the instruments, except for the guitar parts. Well, she does a superb job, crafting an exuberant synth-driven soundscape built around an irresistible head-bopping groove. Her powerful, emphatic vocals are fantastic, adding more fuel to the song’s exhilarating combustible vibe.

Child has stated that this was not intended to be a happy love song, but more a reflection on the Freudian concept of the pleasure vs. pain principle, generally defined as the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. (Wikepedia) In the lyrics, she sings to a man who drives her wild with sexual and romantic desires, while insisting that she’s going to resist his powerful charms to protect her own well-being.

Ain't no personal thing, boy
But you have got to stay away
Far, far away from my heart, my heart
Don't you know what your kiss is doing
Let me tell it to you from the start, boy

I don't wanna fall in love, no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end, baby

You've been hanging around boy
And you have started sinking in
Ooh baby, you're way out of line now
Unaware how this all got started
Let me tell it to you one more time, boy

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I learned something about myself
Last night with you I knew
I didn't want nobody else
And your scaring me to death now, baby

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

Top 30 Songs for August 28-Sept 3, 2022

A year after it’s release, the gorgeous throwback love ballad “Until I Found You” by adorable 19-year-old Nashville crooner Stephen Sanchez reaches the top spot on my Weekly Top 30. With it’s wonderful retro 50s doo wop vibe, highlighted by Sanchez’ beautiful jangly guitar and vibrant vocals, I cannot get enough of it! The song quickly went viral on TikTok, and has reached #1 in Malaysia, #5 in the Philippines and on the Billboard AAA chart, but only recently began climbing the Hot 100 Chart, where it currently sits at #88. The song is included on his 7-track EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th.

For the marvelous official video, which came out in late June, Sanchez channels his inner Elvis, also pairing himself with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike as his love interest with whom he sings the song in a duet (although the layered vocals on the track are all his, from what I can tell). He told Rolling StoneI was obsessed with the style of the 50s when I was growing up. The glamorous cars, movie theaters, mom & pop shops. I romanticized all of its visually stunning colors and sleekness. I wanted to implement all of that beauty into my dream of being a 1950s singer debuting his ‘hit’ song on the Ed Sullivan Show.”

In other chart highlights, the hauntingly beautiful “Broken Record” by British artist NAVE, and “SUPERMODEL” by Italian band Måneskin, each climb three spots to #3 and 4, respectively, and “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco enters the top 10 at #9. Making their debut this week are “boy” by The Killers, at #28, and “Giants” by WALK THE MOON, at #30. As an old geezer myself, it’s heartening to see songs by veteran artists and bands over 40 like Sharon Van Etten, Jack White, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, the Killers, Damon Albarn of Gorillaz, and Brian and Marc of The Star Crumbles, all of whom are still at the top of their game.

  1. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (2)
  2. CLOSER – The Frontier (1)
  4. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (7)
  5. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (4)
  8. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (9)
  9. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (11)
  10. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (5)
  11. BONES – Imagine Dragons (13)
  12. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (15)
  13. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (14)
  14. TEK IT – Cafuné (16)
  15. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (17)
  16. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (20)
  17. GREY – Holy Coves (18)
  18. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (21)
  19. COMPLIANCE – Muse (19)
  20. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (10)
  21. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (25)
  22. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (26)
  23. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (12)
  24. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (27)
  25. FREE – Florence + the Machine (28)
  26. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (29)
  27. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (30)
  28. BOY – The Killers (N)
  29. DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (23)

SAM RAPPAPORT – Single Review: “Easy to Love”

There are so many outstanding artists around today who are creating some really excellent music. One of my favorite finds of the past year is Sam Rappaport, a talented and affable singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York. His mellow music style draws from elements of adult contemporary pop, folk, rock, soul and jazz, which he delivers with thoughtful, relatable lyrics and beautiful, pleasing vocals.

I first featured him on this blog last November, when I reviewed his wonderful single “Journeyman’s Ballet”. At the time, he was also a member of the indie R&B/blues rock band Gooseberry, who I’ve also written about, but he amicably parted ways with them in May to pursue his solo career. (Both “Journeyman’s Ballet” and Gooseberry’s single “Sleep” spent many weeks on my Weekly Top 30 earlier this year.) Now Sam is back with a new song “Easy to Love“, which is the lead single from his forthcoming debut EP Get Me Away From Myself.

Produced by Lorenzo Wolff and recorded at Restoration Sound Studio in Brooklyn, NY, “Easy to Love” explores both the difficulty and ease of falling in love, and the conflicting emotions of fear and desire inherent in romantic intimacies. “I think it’s about dating apps. A Tinder anthem of sorts. But I also think it’s about fear and desire, intimacy and suffocation“, says Sam.

For recording of the track, Sam played piano and Wurlitzer, and sang vocals, Lorenzo Wolff played bass, synths, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, tuba and vibraphone, Dave Scalia played drums and percussion, Ryan Weisheit played saxophone, and Tiffany Wilson sang backing vocals. The song starts off slowly, with a gentle drumbeat and strummed acoustic guitar as Sam softly croons the lyrics, then gradually builds as a colorful array of instruments are added to create an exuberant, almost celebratory vibe. The arrangement and production are first-rate, and I love how each instrument can clearly be heard, particularly Sam’s dulcet piano keys, Lorenzo’s subtle bass and fuzzy vibraphone, and Ryan’s jazzy sax.

As always, Sam’s warm vocals are pure delight, beautifully conveying the casual, somewhat detached but rather bemused emotions expressed in the lyrics, and nicely accompanied by Tiffany’s lilting backup vocals. As it’s title suggests, “Easy to Love” is just that. It’s another fine single by Sam, and I look forward to the release of his EP.

Some people search for love for their entire lives
They sit in dim lit bars
They try to turn the waitress to a wife
They beat their head against the wall
Cause there's no finger for the ring
But I'm not mining for a heartbreak
That's the thing

They tell me finding love is rather hard
They take a redeye to Chicago with a Valentines Day card
They say this will last forever
But if it leaves it won't come back
I'm not saying it's a good thing
But it's easier than that

The way you laugh makes me tingle
The way you touch me makes me cry
And I know I'll end up leaving in the night
It's just too easy to love
And that's why

Some people search for love their entire lives
They say it might come once so don't think twice
They say hold on once you've got it
Else it's likely to be gone
But there's a billion people out there
That's what's wrong

The way you laugh makes me tingle
The way you touch me makes me cry
I know I'll end up leaving in the night
It's just too easy to love
And that's why

The wonderful photos were taken by Grace Rivera.

Connect with Sam on Instagram

Sam’s music may be found on: Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube / Amazon / Bandcamp

Top 30 Songs for August 21-27, 2022

The Frontier with his trusty sidekick Atlas

Northern Virginia-based artist The Frontier (the music project of enormously talented, funny and gracious singer-songwriter Jake Mimikos) is a long-time favorite of mine. Drawing from elements of pop, folk, rock and electronica, his music is incredibly pleasing, relentlessly catchy, and flawlessly crafted. The prolific artist has released an impressive amount of music both as a band and a solo artist under The Frontier moniker since around 2015, and I’ve featured quite a bit of it on this blog. Several of his songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30, with two – “Dark Places” (from 2019) and “Can We Go Back” (from 2021) – going all the way to #1. He now reaches the top spot for a third time, with his lovely, upbeat song “Closer”. I find that the more I hear his songs, the more I grow to love them, and “Closer” is no exception.

And speaking of love, I’ve fallen head over heels for the gorgeous “Until I Found You” by 19-year-old Nashville crooner Stephen Sanchez, which climbs three spots to #2. The song is included on his new 7-track EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th. Entering the top 10 is the wonderfully complex “Lemon Tree” by L.A. indie folk-rock band Mt. Joy. Big upward movers this week include “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco, which climbs six spots to #11, “What’s the Trick?” by Jack White, also moving up six spots to #20, and “Here to Forever” by Death Cab For Cutie, jumping seven spots to #21. Three great songs finally make their long-overdue debut: “Free” by Florence + the Machine, “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz featuring Thundercat, and “Something Loud” by veteran rockers Jimmy Eat World, entering at #s 28, 29 and 30, respectively.

  1. CLOSER – The Frontier (2)
  2. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (5)
  4. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (4)
  5. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (1)
  7. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (8)
  9. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (12)
  10. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (9)
  11. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (17)
  12. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (6)
  13. BONES – Imagine Dragons (15)
  14. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (14)
  15. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (18)
  16. TEK IT – Cafuné (19)
  17. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (21)
  18. GREY – Holy Coves (20)
  19. COMPLIANCE – Muse (23)
  20. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (26)
  21. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab For Cutie (28)
  22. IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters (11)
  23. DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (16)
  24. WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses (13)
  25. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (27)
  26. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (29)
  27. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (30)
  28. FREE – Florence + the Machine (N)
  29. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (N)
  30. SOMETHING LOUD – Jimmy Eat World (N)

dwi – Single & Video Review: “Party4One”

One of the most fascinating artists I’ve come across over the past year is dwi, the music project of Canadian singer-songwriter Dwight Abell. He’s also bassist for Canadian alternative/power pop band The Zolas, who recently completed a tour of Canada and the U.S. Though he’s a devoted husband and father of two young boys living in the suburbs of Vancouver, he lets his creativity and imagination run totally wild with his zany alter ago, making outstanding music that’s innovative, quirky and fun. Last October, dwi released his brilliant debut album Mild Fantasy Violence, which I happily reviewed. One of the album’s tracks, “Good Friend”, spent four months on my Weekly Top 30, going all the way to #1 this past January.

Now he’s back with a marvelous new single “Party4One“, accompanied by a delightfully wacky video. He says the song is “about falling in love with yourself during an intense state of cabin fever. Love yourself, make out with yourself, and for the love of gawd, scare yourself. The weirdos are in charge now!” The song’s a blast from start to finish, with an infectious bouncy groove, highlighted by a chugging bass line, a lively mix of jangly and crunchy guitars, crisp, thumping drumbeats, and swirling psychedelic synths. dwi’s quirky vocals are relentlessly endearing as he sings “Hey reflection, I really like you. Don’t want your friends. Hey man, I think it’s pretty funny given who I am. Nothing can stop me, I’m living in a single player game. You can’t stop me, it’s a party for one.

The hilarious video was directed and produced by Canadian musician and film director Andrew Huculiak, and filmed in a house on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish), and Tsleil-Waututh nations. It stars dwi as an eccentric guy dressed in goth-punk black leather and a plaid skirt, with his hair featuring two tufts molded into devil horns. He enters an old house and proceeds to indulge in all sorts of childish antics, including playing video games with a giant stuffed teddy bear, overdosing on bowlfuls of Froot Loops, covering his face with lipstick in front of a bathroom mirror, and engaging in S&M pretend with the teddy bear. Haven’t we all wanted to run amok and do weird shit by ourselves at one time or another? I love it, and I love him!

Connect with dwi:  Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple Music YouTube

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 18 – Black Bear Kiss, The Metal Byrds, Tough on Fridays

Given my hiatus from writing reviews (notwithstanding my recent 30-day song challenge), it’s been over three months since I’ve written a Fresh New Tracks post. Now that I’m feeling more rested, I’ve decided to dip my toes back into the turgid waters of review-writing, steadfast with determination going foward to not allow myself to become overwhelmed or burned out. With that in mind, today I’m featuring new songs by three great bands I’ve previously written about on this blog – British rockers Black Bear Kiss, and two female-fronted rock bands from Texas, The Metal Byrds and Tough on Fridays.

BLACK BEAR KISS – “Chasing All I Know”

Black Bear Kiss have been a favorite of this blog for over four years, since June 2018 when I reviewed their terrific debut single “Hooks”. Over the succeeding four years, they’ve released a number of fine singles, most of which I’ve also reviewed. With their exhilarating, guitar-driven rock sound, strong charisma and rowdy live performances, they’ve built a loyal following in their home base of the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England and beyond. In June of last year, the band was shaken by the tragic and sudden passing of one of their guitarists Rob Jones from a previously undisclosed heart ailment. Now soldiering on as a four-piece, Black Bear Kiss consists of Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums.

To honor Rob, as well as to help raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a charity aimed at raising funds for cardiac screening, research and the support of families affected, the band released a single “The First Time” this past February. Now they return with their latest single “Chasing All I Know“, which was one of Rob’s favourite songs. The track was recorded at the iconic Foal Studio in Wales, with Rob’s cousin Mike playing rhythm guitar using Rob’s own Gibson Les Paul. About the song, band vocalist Chris Leech explains: “We all have different pressures in our lives. This track is about feeling like you’re at the centre of everything and trying to get back to a place or feeling that you know – it’s also got some grunt which is what we are all about!” Black Bear Kiss delivers their signature driving rhythms we’ve come to love and expect, overlain with roiling riffs of grungy guitars and thumping drumbeats. Leech’s expressive vocals sound better than ever as he fervently sings “There’s all these people standing by my side. I just want you to tell me it’s alright. I’m at the center of it, I’m chasing, I’m chasing all I know now, whoa.”

Follow Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

THE METAL BYRDS – “Vicious Circle”

The Metal Byrds are a female-fronted rock band based in Austin, Texas, who play a hard-hitting style of rock, infused with healthy doses of rock’n’roll and power pop, along with enough metal in the mix to give their songs a dark, edgy quality. Formed in 2018, the band has undergone a few personnel changes, and now consists of founding members London-born singer-songwriter Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye, along with bassist Mac Jacob and drummer Charlie Breeze. Over the past three-plus years, they’ve released three EPs – The Song Byrd in April 2019, Byrds on a Wyre in June 2020, and Life in 20 in October 2020 (which I reviewed) – and an album simply titled 4, in September 2021. On July 15th, they released “Vicious Circle“, the lead single from their forthcoming album BIRDIE LANE, due for release later this year. 

The song is an exhilarating banger, driven by a hard-charging rhythm, courtesy of Mac’s brilliant chugging bassline and Charlie’s pummeling drums. Sly lays down an aggressive onslaught of gnarly riffs, highlighted by a blazing guitar solo in the bridge. And Suzanne’s powerful, resonant vocals are in fine form as she fervently wails the lyrics describing the torture of insomnia, keeping her awake with worries and anxiety that she’ll never be able to sleep: “Here we go again, a vicious circle. Can’t get it started. Round and around again.” It’s a fantastic song, and I think it’s one of their best yet. The wonderful video shows Suzanne suffering the agonies of insomnia, interspersed with rather humorous scenes of her bandmates performing the song while on her bed, adding to her sleepless misery.

Follow The Metal Byrds: Facebook / Twitter

TOUGH ON FRIDAYS – “Growing Pains”

Hailing from Georgetown, Texas, not far from Austin, grunge pop-rock trio Tough on Fridays have been on an upward trajectory since forming in 2017. Now consisting of Caleigh Oceguera on vocals & guitar, Carly Fairchild on bass & vocals, and Chris Schreck on drums, they’ve garnered an enormous base of loyal fans through their memorable music, relatable lyrics and high-energy live shows. Blending elements of indie, alt-rock, pop and grunge, they create their own unique style of edgy rock ‘n roll. Since 2017, they’ve released numerous singles and EPs, which culminated in the release of their outstanding debut album A Fantastic Way to Kill Some Time, in September 2020 (my review has been viewed more than 1,100 times, making it the fourth most-viewed album review I’ve written.)

In the two years since, they’ve released several singles, the latest of which is “Growing Pains“, which dropped August 15th. The song has a pleasing folk-rock vibe, highlighted by Caleigh’s lovely strummed guitar work, while Carly and Chris keep the lively rhythm on their bass and drums. The subtle piano keys are a nice touch, adding to the song’s melodic sound. Caleigh’s slightly echoed vocals have a vulnerable quality, providing a rather melancholy undercurrent to the track as she plaintively sings the lyrics directed to a former loved one that she’s moving on from the relationship: “Growing pains. Sick of hearing how I’ve changed. Cause I’ve outgrown you, I don’t need you. Cause I’m pulling all your weight. Done cleaning up the mess you’ve made. You always made./ Am I bitter? Just feeling better.” It’s a wonderful, beautifully-crafted and masterfully-arranged track that nicely showcases Tough on Fridays’ continued growth and musical maturity.

Follow Tough on Fridays:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Top 30 Songs for August 14-20, 2022

Lizzo remains at #1 for a second week on my latest Weekly Top 30 with her infectious dance song “About Damn Time”, while The Frontier‘s delightful “Closer” and YUNGBLUD‘s wonderfully frantic “The Funeral” both move up a notch to #2 and #3. respectively. Climbing four spots to enter the top 10 at #10 is the darkly beautiful “Failure to Comply” by MISSIO. Some big upward movers this week include “Lemon Tree” by Mt. Joy, which jumps eight spots to #12, “Viva Las Vengeance” by Panic! At the Disco, climbing seven spots to #17, and “Break My Soul” by Beyoncé, which leaps 10 spots to #18. Making their debut this week are terrific new songs by three great pop-rock bands: “Here to Forever” by Death Cab For Cutie, “Part of the Band” by The 1975, and “Seasick” by The Rare Occasions, which enter at #s 28, 29 and 30.

  1. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (1)
  2. CLOSER – The Frontier (3)
  4. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (5)
  5. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (6)
  6. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (2)
  8. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (10)
  9. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (7)
  11. IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters (8)
  12. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (20)
  13. WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses (11)
  14. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (16)
  15. BONES – Imagine Dragons (17)
  16. DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (15)
  17. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (24)
  18. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (28)
  19. TEK IT – Cafuné (21)
  20. GREY – Holy Coves (22)
  21. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (26)
  22. SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER – Sam Fender (12)
  23. COMPLIANCE – Muse (27)
  24. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (13)
  25. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (19)
  26. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (29)
  27. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (30)
  28. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab For Cutie (N)
  29. PART OF THE BAND – The 1975 (N)
  30. SEASICK – The Rare Occasions (N)

RIP Olivia Newton-John

I’m really sad about the passing of Olivia Newton-John, from cancer at the age of 73. I was a teenager when I first learned about the British-Australian singer back in 1971 when she released her lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You”. The song became her first charting single in the U.S., peaking at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. I really liked her delicate vocal style and thought she was beautiful, even developing a bit of a teenage crush. A couple of years would pass before she had another hit, with “Let Me Be There”, and as she continued to release more singles, including her stirring, ethereal ballad “I Honestly Love You”, I became a big fan of hers. On the strength of that song, which became her first #1 hit, I bought her 1974 album If You Love Me, Let Me Know (which I just learned was a compilation album released only in the U.S. and Canada).

Looking back on her extensive and impressive discography spanning a time frame of over 40 years – including 26 studio albums, six live albums, 14 compilations, six soundtracks, and 70 singles – some of it I really loved, while some of it I thought was just okay. But there’s no denying the impact she made on popular music from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. Fifteen of her singles made the top 10, with five – “I Honestly Love You”, “Have You Never Been Mellow”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “Magic” and “Physical” – reaching #1. Though “Physical” was her biggest hit of them all, spending 10 weeks at #1 and ranking as Billboard‘s Top Hot 100 Single of the 1980s, it’s not among my favorite Olivia Newton-John songs.

Here are my top five favorite songs of hers:

  1. Magic (1980) – A brilliant, mesmerizing song from the mediocre film Xanadu

2. I Honestly Love You (1974) – The beautiful piano, strings and strummed guitar, accompanied by Newton-John’s breathy vocals, are marvelous.

3. You’re The One That I Want” (1978) – Exuberant & fun duet with John Travolta for the film musical Grease

4. Hopelessly Devoted to You (1978) – An emotionally-wrought love song with a bit of a Country flavor, written for Newton-John for the film version of Grease

5. Sam (1977) – I love the gorgeous sweeping orchestration and her vibrant vocals, and this song should have been a bigger hit (only peaked at #20)

She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul, and a long-time advocate for environmental and animal rights causes. She was also instrumental in raising funds to help build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. May the light and joy she gave throughout her life live on in her memory.

Top 30 Songs for August 7-13, 2022

I’m thrilled to place Lizzo‘s infectious feel-good single “About Damn Time” at #1 on my latest Weekly Top 30. I love a good dance song, and with its funky bass-driven groove, “About Damn Time” fits the bill quite nicely. From her fourth album Special, it’s her first song to top my chart, and her second to top the Billboard Hot 100. Born Melissa Jefferson in Detroit, the 34-year-old singer has already had an interesting life. After moving with her family to Houston when she was 10, Lizzo began studying the flute with renowned music teacher Claudia Momen. She also started rapping in her early teens, and formed a musical group called Cornrow Clique with her friends, at which time she acquired the nickname “Lizzo”. After graduating from high school, she studied classical music with a concentration on flute at the University of Houston, but by 21, was living out of her car for a year while trying to break into the music industry. She released two studio albums, Lizzobangers in 2013 and Big Grrrl Small World in 2015, but neither charted. Lizzo finally achieved breakthrough success in 2019 with her single “Truth Hurts” after it was featured in the Netflix film Someone Great. The song became a viral sleeper hit, reaching #1 two years after its initial release. Lizzo’s life-long struggles with her weight have led her to become a fearless advocate for body positivity and self-love.

In other chart highlights, “Closer” by The Frontier and “The Funeral” by YUNGBLUD, hold at #3 and #4, and “Mistakes” by Sharon Van Etten climbs four spots to #5. Entering the top 10 are “Until I Found You” by Stephen Sanchez, which jumps six spots to #6, “Broken Record” by NAVE, up seven spots to #9, and “SUPERMODEL” by Måneskin, which leaps 10 spots to #10.

I wanted to add at least six new songs to my chart this week, but had room for only these three, each of which could not be more different from one another: “BREAK MY SOUL” by Beyoncé, “What’s the Trick?” by Jack White, and “Please Write Responsibly” by British artist Granfalloon, the music project of talented singer-songwriter Richard Lomax, making his first appearance on my chart.

  1. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (2)
  2. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (1)
  3. CLOSER – The Frontier (3)
  5. MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (9)
  6. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (12)
  7. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (7)
  8. IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters (8)
  10. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (20)
  11. WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses (10)
  12. SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER – Sam Fender (5)
  13. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (6)
  15. DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (17)
  16. LIN MANUEL – Onism E (18)
  17. BONES – Imagine Dragons (22)
  18. TELL ME THE TRUTH – Two Feet (11)
  19. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (14)
  20. LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (24)
  21. TEK IT – Cafuné (25)
  22. GREY – Holy Coves (23)
  23. BELIEVE – Caamp (13)
  24. VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (28)
  25. THE FOUNDATIONS OF DECAY – My Chemical Romance (15)
  26. SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers (30)
  27. COMPLIANCE – Muse (29)
  28. BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé (N)
  29. WHAT’S THE TRICK? – Jack White (N)
  30. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (N)