Mervin Malone
This is a place — a BLOG, if you will — about music, film, culture, the arts and whatever else co-exists and generates popular culture. Enjoy!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006
Madonna -- Sorry EP to be released on CD...

"Sorry" — the second single from Madonna's Confessions On a Dance Floor album — is set to be released on CD-single this Tuesday, February 28. Warner Bros. released a downloadable version to iTunes earlier this month with edited versions of all the remixes. In contrast, the CD-version will contain several full versions, as well as the Paper Faces Vocal Edit of  "Let It Will Be". 

In all honesty, the remixes from the Sorry EP have been unofficially available for sometime now, even before the iTunes release — no doubt a clever marketing ruse on the part of Madonna's braintrust. The Pet Shop Boys — or PSB Maxi-Mix — is particularly popular with Madonna-diehards — especially her gay fans. Indeed, many of the Madonna-faithful had long wondered why Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys — given their virtually identical fanbases — hadn't worked together before (if even in so indirect a way as remixes). The Pet Shop Boys remix of "Sorry" is argaubly the best mix and is sure to please longtime Madonna fans and casual admirers alike; it's keenly aware of the current electro aesthetic popular in the underground, and even samples some of the Pet Shop Boys own work.

While Sorry is certainly a worthy single, it is far and away NOT the best track from the Confessions... album. "Future Lovers" — which heavily borrows from Donna Summer's immortal "I Feel Love" — would've probably been a better (if not more obvious) choice for a single and would've translated better into remixes. Nevertheless, "Sorry" is a great track that — while not particularly pioneering (none of Confessions is that) — is sure to elicit a joyful listening experience.


Posted at 08:27 pm by Mervin Malone
Thought (1)  

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Mervin's 10 questions with award-winning singer/musician Jody Watley!

Aria is extremely honored to welcome one of the great musical pioneers of my youth (and my continued favorite today), Grammy-Award winning singer/musician, Jody Watley. Ms. Watley is the first celebrity participant in what will (hopefully) be a regular part of the Aria Music forum, 'Mervin's 10 questions with...'.

Thank you for inviting me to participate!

Seeing as you're a singer/musician, I'd like to begin the list with a discussion of one of your major musical influences, as well as the Grammy Awards. It's well-known to your fans that you are heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder. Indeed, in 1988, MTV featured you alongside Wonder and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan on a televised jam session, dubbed "Characters".

What Stevie Wonder full-length do you consider to be required listening?

Wow...tough one! Probably Songs in the Key of Life... Innervisons... the experimental Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants... Music of My Mind... I'd say this ARTIST is required listening — and give them those to start!

Stevie Wonder is an artist whose genius spans 4+ decades. As such, his musical output — much like that of yours and Prince's after him — must be judged in the context of each specific decade in which he has recorded. Which Stevie Wonder has most influenced you, Ms. Watley? The Motown child prodigy of the '60s; the culturally-sensitive rebel genius of the '70s; The pop/adult-contemporary star of the '80s; the urban contemporary Wonder of the '90s, or the current Stevie Wonder, {which sounds appealingly like his '70s self}?

He's a timeless artist, though I think he does too many runs now when he's singing! I simply admire that he continued to grow and do quality work — decade after decade; and he's a great humanitarian as well.

It seems I'm most influenced by male artists; I also love Prince; he's another one — a trailblazer — and he is another willing to do his music — his way, sink or swim!

What's your favorite Stevie Wonder song of all time?

Are you kidding?! That's far too difficult! "Too Shy To Say"; "As"; "If It's Magic"; "Creepin'"; Living For the City"; "All is Fair in Love" — I mean really! The term musical genius has been tossed around for many who don't come close, but I see Stevie Wonder as a true musical genius.

The 48th Annual Grammy Awards show was earlier this month; in the past, you have been featured as a presenter, nominee and winner...

Yes — I'm ready to be included again — as all of the above! Really — to perform on the show would be awesome. When I won 'Best New Artist', fellow nominee Terence Trent D'Arby performed and was also the strong favorite to win — not to mention he was on the almighty CBS Records (now SONY) — so I was positive that he'd win. They generally have a larger voting block — and more clout! But I was bummed when I found out I couldn't perform on the show...

What is your favorite Grammy performance of all time?

Janet Jackson — when she unveiled the 20" waist, circa Control. Michael Jackson, Kathleen Battle, Sting with Cheb Mami, Ella Fitzgerald — they usually have great performances — recently, John Legend was great. I wished Sly and the Family Stone could have rocked their hits without all the miscellaneous artists; it's like Stevie Wonder on the Superbowl! Really — these legends don't need any help! Well..ok.. perhaps Sly Stone was too unpredictable to go it alone!! I enjoyed Coldplay this year; also thought their song "Fix You" was worthy of a nomination...

What's your favorite Grammy win of all time?

Mine of course!!!

What's your biggest Grammy disappointment?

Nuyorican Soul should have been nominated when that record came out; it's
one of the best albums ever. Massive Attack's  Protection — I mean there
should be a Grammy Awards for the best of the underground! But really — if
someone comes up to me and they say '...your music got me through a tough
time', or that the music was a bright spot in their life, that's the best. I was stunned when Little Richard mentioned never having a Grammy the year I won; he was right — he's the architect of Rock and Roll.. Diana Ross should have one...

Now I'd like to switch gears and talk a little about you. You are an
artist who has paid her dues in the music industry and then some. You have experienced life before the camera, as part of a highly successful band and as an even more successful solo act. You've recorded eight studio albums, from your highly successful self-titled debut to the more recent "Midnight Lounge".

Of all your studio albums, which is your favorite?

It's always the one I'm working on, so right now it's The Makeover, which will be my ninth solo album; I'm SO excited about it! Midnight Lounge is a gem [I still play it]; Intimacy was before it's time — I won't go down the line, but each record has a part in my life. It's not just something I did to get paid — I put my heart into it! I'm told that's my dilemma — I take my music too personally!! But I think a true artist will do what's from the heart; I can sing all of my songs forever and not feel like 'oh man - what was I thinking?!!!' I write from my life and experiences, but what I'm most proud of is the quality I have managed to continue to raise over time...

What do you like LEAST about the commercial music industry?

This question would take me forever to answer, but it would be great that kids hear more than: 'shake that thang', 'back that thang up', 'shorty this', 'push up on that'. The title track, "The Makeover (Superstar)" — I wrote it with my 12 year old niece in mind — it's the anti-shorty song. It will also appeal to adults — the message is very broad.

What do you like LEAST about being famous?

I'm just glad I'm not Angelina Jolie or someone like that!

Fame often breeds misconceptions about a person. What do you feel is the biggest misconception that people — or more specifically the media —
have about you?

I just don't like the label, "80's diva" — it makes my skin crawl!!! It's like I'm being frozen in time — and I'm so NOT frozen!!! For one, my music has continued to chart, even as recently as 2005 — be it dance, R&B or Top 40 — and ''80s diva' just seems so cheesy! I'm an artist, songwriter and producer — and again — that tag just seems so wrong! Also, I don't see this label used with artists like Cyndi Lauper, (who came out around the time I did) and countless others that continue to work and tour don't get the '80s label. My friends, business associates and I are always perplexed as to why I do, when 'Grammy Award Winning Artist Jody Watley' shoud do!!!

I understand that most people live in a bubble controlled by mass consumption
and overexposure and unless they are really plugged into music — not the charts, but searching out quality music — my growth has been overlooked by the mass media. This is part of the reason I'm calling the album The Makeover; my music has been undergoing major renovation — for years!! So, when I do interviews this time around, I can use the title as a talking point.

This concludes Aria's 10 questions with award-winning singer/songwriter, Jody Watley. As you can see, we went slightly over 10 questions, but hey — it's Jody Watley! Be on the lookout for Ms. Watley's forthcoming The Makeover release. Also, you can visit Ms. Watley at www.jodywatley.net, or www.myspace.com/jodywatley.

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Posted at 11:01 pm by Mervin Malone
Thoughts (14)  

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