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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
MUSIC
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2010-01-27

This article shared 2503 times since Wed Jan 27, 2010
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Just a month into it, do not fall behind on New Year's resolutions. Leave it to music to help. Recent upbeat albums like Bill Bennett's Big Muscle Remixed, Now That's What I Call Club Hits and Now That's What I Call Dance Classics make an ideal soundtrack to getting physical.

Let me warn you right now: if you play DJ Bill Bennett's Big Muscle Remixed during a cardio workout, you will run out of breath. The big voiced divas here will steal your precious air. On this continuous mix, HI-NRG singer Abigail remakes Alphaville's signature "Forever Young." Thea Austin, who contributed to SNAP's "Rhythm Is a Dancer," belts it out on "Big Muscle." Chicago's very own Suzanne Palmer takes this revamped version of "Fame" to a new level. Pepper MaShay's "Manhunt" is 6 minutes of driving inspiration. Big Muscle Remixed is out now on Centaur.

That's What I Call Club Hits features radio favorites, but has a bit too many Auto-Tuned vocals. Tiesto transforms "Spaceman" by The Killers with electro beats, but keeps Brandon Flowers' nervous voice intact. The ubiquitous Lady Gaga's "Love Game" is sped up thanks to Dave Aude's remix. What would a dance mix be without Michael Jackson? The set concludes with The Polow remix of Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine."

The companion set Now That's What I Call Classics contains the key ingredients to a fun wedding reception or lively workout. Womanly sex appeal comes courtesy of Salt n Pepa's "Push It" and Jody Watley's "Real Love." The Gap Band's "You Really Dropped the Bomb on Me" and Cameo's "Word Up" bring the funk. Again, the late Jackson keeps the party going with "Shake You Body ( Down to the Ground ) ." Even campy anthems are present with The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" and Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy." This compilation reminds me to when club music had a stronger presence in the charts and pop radio.

Shannon's '80s dance hits prove to be a goldmine for samples. American Idol winner Jordin Sparks' "S.O.S." borrows from "Let the Music Play," whereas Frenchie Davis' collaboration with TR, "Give Me Tonight," lifts its chorus from Shannon's original of the same name.

But it is out rapper Cazwell's "Tonight" that proves to have the hottest hook thanks to Shannon. In the accompanying video, the MC chases his flame throughout New York City. Like in his previous clips, Amanda Lepore makes a cameo here. "Tonight" is on Cazwell's latest album, Watch My Mouth.

Ever wondered what Neneh Cherry's 1989 Raw Like Sushi would sound like if it came out today? Then check out Chicago's Kid Sister's much-anticipated full-length debut, Ultraviolet. "Get Fresh" possesses Cherry's up-front attitude. "Big N Bad" picks up once the chorus is delivered over Yaz's "Don't Go." Kid Sister has a beautiful potential pop crossover with "Daydreaming" and Kanye West cameos on "Pro Nails." The slick "Let Me Bang" samples Tangerine Dream's "Love on a Real Train," as heard in the film Risky Business. Ultraviolet is a much needed dose of energetic hip hop from a woman's point of view.

Corinne Bailey Rae, the sweet girl next door behind "Put Your Records On," blossoms with her follow-up, The Sea. Here, post-psychedelic pop meets folk numbers like "Are You Here," "Closer" and "Love's on Its Way." They seem as if they were plucked from Minnie Riperton's 1970 bow, Come to My Garden. Tracks like "The Blackest Lily" and "Diving for Hearts" have a full band supporting the British singer-songwriter, giving the material a full body. Bailey Rae succeeds by taking artistic chances on her sophomore outing, making The Sea the first pleasant surprise of 2010.

When I was in Las Vegas, a group of Australian performers was making quite a buzz. It was not the male dance revue The Thunder from Down Under, but rather Human Nature. Unlike most of its peers, this vocal quartet has survived the near extinction of boy bands at the turn of the century. Some might remember that these fellows sang the Australian national anthem at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Sydney.

On the Motown tribute Reach Out, the foursome does not stray from the original arrangements. The guys seem to have the most fun on The Jacksons' "ABC." The heartfelt rendition of "Ooo Baby Baby" is as seductive as ever. In between commitments at The Imperial Palace in Sin City, Human Nature will be at The Venue, 777 Casino Center Drive, Hammond, Ind., on Friday, Jan. 29.

Sadly, Lady Gaga had to cancel a show in Lafayette, Ind., but promised to return. Based on what she said during her three-night sold-out run at Rosemont Theatre and on a recent taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show, the artist also known as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta sincerely loves her fans. During her Michael Jackson- and Blonde Ambition Tour-inspired concert, the "Bad Romance" singer assured her little monsters that they were safe with her. This is so important, especially with so many LGBTQ youth in the audience.

Lady Gaga is more worthy of Madonna's pop-princess baton than Britney Spears. But let's first hear Lady Gaga's forthcoming album, rumored to be out later this year, before her inevitable coronation. Regardless, I remain thankful that Lady Gaga's tour with Kanye West did not come to fruition.


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