Modern Tonic Hub

MUSIC NEWS: George Michael, David Guetta, Jennifer Hudson, Hercules and Love Affair, Lindstrøm, R.E.M., La Roux

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a blog that highlights gay-approved pop culture gems — delivers a weekly music column on Towleroad. (The site is currently being re-designed and will re-launch later this spring.)

George There're a hundred ways to spend your pop dollars these days, what with Extended Editions, Deluxe Editions, and Extra Special Extended Deluxe Editions of albums by your fave artists. Often, it's just record companies bilking a gullible public. But George Michael's Faith (Special Edition) (out February 1) — two CDs, one DVD — is a worthwhile walk down memory lane with a 24-year-old record that was a zeitgeist-channeling pop phenomenon, turning a dimpled boy-band flyweight into a bona fide superstar. And it's where the kids who think of Michael as a chubby old toilet-trawling burnout learn their lesson about the gay Justin Timberlake of the '80s. Disc one is a re-mastered version of the original release and, except for the occasionally cheesy synth (we're thinking of you, "Monkey"), it more than holds up — and actually sounds downright classic. The hand-clapping title track, the blue-eyed funk of the eternally horny "I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 & 2)", and the soul revelation of the breathy "Father Figure" we all know and love. But songs you haven’t heard in a long time, or may have forgotten, are just as strong, including the shoulda-been-a-monster "Hard Day" and, yes, the cheesy synth-laden "Monkey." The DVD is chockablock with videos, interviews, and various ephemera for fans, and disc two is heavy on remixes, live tracks, and a tent-raising slice of funk called "Fantasy" we wish was on the original album. Michael may well be past his prime — pop stars rarely get to scale such rarefied heights more than once — but let's respect the achievement that was — and still is — Faith.
DavidDavid Guetta's the latest DJ turned chart-climbing superstar on the back of his 2009 release One Love. He rescued ex-Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland from The Fashion Show and put her back in the clubs where she belongs, with the inescapable "When Love Takes Over," and he's worked often with former gospel singer, the openly gay Chris Willis. Plus he's never met a beat he doesn't — or you don't — love. One More Love (out today), a stop-gap collection that mostly includes previously-released tracks from One Love, features his current club-thumping single "Who's That Chick?" with Rihanna. "Missing You" with L.A. hip-hop artist Novel is remade from pounding floor-filler to non-stop stealth bomber — it's relentless in the best way possible. (Watch YouTube wunderkind Keenan Cahill take on a Guetta megamix here.)


RoadJennifer Hudson will release her sophomore album, I Remember Me, on March 22. Stream her new single here.

RoadBillboard covers the 50 top albums to expect in 2011.

Road Herc___Stream Hercules and Love Affair's new album, Blue Songs, in its entirety here. While available in the U.K. next week, no U.S. release date has been announced yet.

RoadLindstrøm, the Norwegian producer/remixer, is coming to the U.S. for rare tour dates in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in February. Get a free download of his remix of Glasser's "Mirrorage" here.

 Road Preview four tracks from R.E.M.'s forthcoming album Collapse Into Now, which is due March 8.

RoadOn February 8, La Roux will release Gold Edition, a digital-only collection of b-sides, remixes and acoustic versions of tracks from their self-titled debut album.

RoadThe Original Broadway Cast Recording of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is set to be released March 15. Songs made famous by Elvis, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner replace the ABBA tracks that appeared on the film soundtrack.


Olivia The soft pop icon Olivia Newton-John goes the duet route on A Celebration in Song, a 2008 release getting its domestic debut today. Bee Gee Barry Gibb guests on the lovestruck "The Heart Knows" while she two-steps with Keith Urban through "Sunburned Country." Proceeds go to the ON-J Cancer and Wellness Centre Appeal.

On Corinne Bailey Rae's covers collections, The Love EP, you'll hear her wrestle with songs by Prince ("I Wanna Be Your Lover"), Belly (“Low Red Moon,” fantastic), and, uh, Doris Day ("Que Sera Sera," which she turns into a 13-minute psychedelic slow jam freakout).

The men of Cold War Kids make their arena move with third release Mine Is Yours. The collection, produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), muscles down on radio-sized nuggets of alt-rock that aim for the cheap seats and, most of the time, hit their mark.
Joyce Opera lovers — and we know who we are — can rejoice at Joyce DiDonato's Diva, Divo, in which the mezzo-soprano sings arias as both male and female. It's a feat both genre- and gender-defying. Download "Aprite, presto aprite" from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, a free bonus track from Diva, Divo here.

Sweden's The Radio Dept. go the best-of/b-sides route on Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010. Disc one is all the singles you never got to hear in the U.S. (a cover of The Go-Betweens "Bachelor Kisses" is a lovely homage to their indie pop roots) and Disc two is b-sides that'd be highlights for lesser talents. 

Also out: Iron & Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean; Destroyer — Kaputt; Wanda Jackson — The Party Ain't Over; Talib Kweli — Gutter Rainbows


Ayo — "I'm Gonna Dance"
This German singer of Nigerian descent doesn't have much in common with Berlin's clubby techno kids, but she makes a joyful reggae-fied skank a la The Police on this clip, wherein she dances through the city as, respectively, a librarian, a Native American, a flamenco dancer, etc.

Metric — "Expecting to Fly"
The Canadian alt-rock vets cover fellow Canuck Neil Young's Buffalo Springfield tune with an evocative, ghostly clip. Available as part of Metric's iTunes session.

Matt & Kim — "Cameras"
Super-hot male-female Brooklyn indie-duo throw a huge fit in this, well, punchy video for "Cameras" from their third release Sidewalks. When Kim comes out you with a guitar, Matt, all we can say is "duck!"

She & Him — "Don't Look Back"
From last year's Volume Two comes this whimsical throwback to the 60's idea of the space-age future, which includes the type of sunny pop that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward — the titular She & Him — render timeless.


WINTER/SPRING 2011 MUSIC PREVIEW, Part 2: MEN, Ivri Lider, Holcombe Waller, Marsha Ambrosius, The Sounds, George Michael

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a blog that highlights gay-approved pop culture gems — delivers a weekly music column on Towleroad. (The site is currently being re-designed and will re-launch later this spring.)


Here is Part 2 of our Winter/Spring 2011 music preview (see Part 1 here). This week’s covers LGBT artists, either solo or fronting bands. The collective work of these exceptional artists is as inspiring as any "It Gets Better" video.

MenalbumMEN — Talk About Body (February 1): This is where Le Tigre’s JD Samson (né Jocelyn Samson) separates the — teehee — men from the boys. The Brooklyn dance party on Talk About Body is beat happy ("Boom Boom Boom"), politically astute ("Credit Card Babie$"), and trans positive ("Who Am I To Feel So Free"). It’ll make your brain dance as fast as your booty. (Free download of a remix of "Off Our Backs" in player.)

Ivri Lider — Fly/Forget (Spring TBA): "I wanna know your body like it was my own," sings this Israeli troubadour on his first album completely in English, Fly/Forget. And after one listen to his honest, wrenching songs of a painful breakup, you’ll take him up on his offer. After all, the man’s on the market. (Free download of a cover of Lady Gaga’s "Telephone" in player.)

Holcombe Holcombe Waller — Into the Dark Unknown (February 22): If Jay Brannan, Jeff Buckley and Sufjan Stevens converged, the result could well be Holcombe Waller’s fragile, breathtaking third album, Into the Dark Unknown. From the mellow country dusk of "Risk of Change" (free download in player) to the ebbing intensity of "Down & Cried" this is one performer who should not remain unknown for long.
MarshaMarsha Ambrosius — Late Nights & Early Mornings (February 22): Half of jazzy U.K. hip-hop duo Floetry flows her own way on her solo debut, and we like where she’s going. "Far Away" (stream it in the player) — with it’s anti-gay-bashing It Gets Better-set-to-music video — is a soul-stirring gay rights anthem for the ages. We can only hope there’s more to come.
TheSounds The Sounds — Something to Die For (March 29): Swedish power poppers and their punk-ish out front-woman Maja Ivarsson give us Something to Die For with their fourth release of New Wave anthems, including the title track, a much-loved highlight from their current live show.
Faith George Michael — Faith (Special Edition) (February 1): Delayed from last October — perhaps to let his latest legal scandals die down — here’s a reminder of what a fantastic pop star George Michael was in his heyday: this Special Edition of his worldwide smash Faith, with two CDs featuring the remastered album, 12" and B-sides, and a DVD of interviews and videos. (Stream the Freemasons remix of "I Want Your Sex" in player.)

Also:  Ricky Martin — Música + Alma + Sexo (February 1); Hercules & Love Affair — Blue Songs (import, February 22); Pet Shop Boys — The Most Incredible Thing (import, March 7) R.E.M. — Collapse Into Now (March 8); Peter Rauhofer — TBD (March).

Towleroad - January 18, 2011 by


RoadEighties night at Coachella? Rumored bookings: Duran Duran, OMD, Gary Numan.

Road Onthefloorcover Jennifer Lopez does her best to make us forget "Louboutins" ever happened.

RoadCher: Churning out #1 hits for the SIXTH decade in a row.

RoadOut indie rock artist Diamond Rings announced he's extending his North American tour through April, co-headlining dates with Canadian group PS I Love You.

RoadCut Copy announced tour dates to support their forthcoming new album, Zonoscope.
Britney RoadBritney's "Hold It Against Me" expected to be the 18th single to debut at #1.

RoadA track from Lady Gaga's Born This Way is rumored to debut at Nicola Formichetti's fashion show in Paris tomorrow.

RoadBjörk is hoping to have a follow-up to 2007's Volta out by the end of the year, with a tour to accompany it.

RoadPandora, the wildly popular music streaming service, is planning a $100 million IPO.

RoadKate Bush rumored to release a new album in 2011.


Two Door Cinema Club — "What You Know"
Irish boys make cowbell heavy pop while Irish lasses dance, cheerlead and lounge in a bubble bath. Then they all join forces in a choreographed finale.

Dirty Vegas — "Electric Love"
British house trio bring the squiggly funk for this clip of an office drone obsessed with sex. In other words, just another day after work.

Bosco Delrey — "Space Junky"
This boy’s been described by producer Diplo as "a garbage can Elvis from New Jersey." That seems to make no sense until you see this clip; its electro-rockabilly syncopation and Delrey’s curled out pompadour make that description sing.

Clare Maguire — "The Last Dance"
This daughter of Annie Lennox — not literally — has a powerfully strong, theatrical and insidious voice that’s all you need to know about this clip. Meet your favorite new Diva.

MUSIC NEWS: Winter/Spring 2011 Preview, Part 1 — Adele, Eliza Doolittle, Kimberly Caldwell, White Lies, Cut/Copy, Natalia Kills, Jessie J, Tina Dico; plus five free downloads

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a blog that highlights gay-approved pop culture gems — delivers a weekly music column on Towleroad. (The site is currently being re-designed and will re-launch later this spring.)


There's so much good new music coming down the pike we're splitting our 2011 Preview into two columns. Next week — a column just for LGBT next-big-things. First up: some sassy sisters, electric grooves for everything from dancing to moping and some quiet tunes for moments of reflection.

Towleroad - January 11, 2011 by


Adele21Adele — 21 (February 22): This superstar was chasing pavements on her debut 19, but at 21 — both her age and the title of her sophomore, Rick Rubin-produced release — she’s "Rolling In the Deep," a title that could reference both her soul and her limitless talent. 
AnnaC Anna Calvi — Anna Calvi (March 1): This English thrush counts Nina Simone, Ravel and Debussy among her influences, but throw in the vocal prowess of Florence Welch and the intensity of PJ Harvey and now we're talking.
ElizaEliza Doolittle — Eliza Doolittle (Spring TBA): Eliza Sophie Caird is veddy British — what’s more English than naming yourself after My Fair Lady’s archetypal lead? But she travels well. Check out her Lily Allen-esque singles "Skinny Genes" and "Pack Up" from her U.S. debut, both big U.K. hits in 2010.

KimcaldwellKimberly Caldwell — Without Regret (April 19): This seventh place rocker from American Idol's second season channels Melissa Etheridge, Pink and — imagine! — Kelly Clarkson on her debut. As she puts it on last year's single, she’ll make a "Mess of You." (Stream the Digital Dog club remix of "Desperate Girls & Stupid Boys" in player.)

Also: Corinne Bailey Rae — The Love E.P., Olivia Newton-John and Friends — A Celebration in Song (January 25); Claudia Brücken — Combined – The Best Of (import, February 7); PJ Harvey — Let England Shake (February 15); Florence + The Machine — Between Two Lungs, Lauren Pritchard — Wasted in Jackson (CD: February 22); Lykke Li — Wounded Rhymes, Linda Eder — Now (March 1); Avril Lavigne — Goodbye Lullaby (March 8); Oh Land — Oh Land (March 15; stream the Jonathan Peters mix of "Sun of a Gun" in player); Lenka — Two (April 19); Lady Gaga — Born This Way (May 23). 


WhiteliesWhite Lies — Ritual (January 18): Gloomy U.K. modern gods of Goth up the ante with romantic anthems and stadium size choruses on their sophomore release Ritual. (Stream a remix of “Bigger Than Us” in player.)

Cut/Copy — Zonoscope (February 8): Australia synth-pop quartet follow-up the eerie dance pop of In Ghost Colours with the full-on radio hooks of Zonoscope, featuring the single "Take Me Over" (free download of a remix in player).
Natalkia Natalia Kills — Perfectionist (March TBA): This U.K. singer/actress darkens up the electro-pulse of M.I.A., La Roux and Lady Gaga and wraps them all in slamming beats for her forthcoming debut. (Free download of Frankmusik's remix of single "Mirrors" in player.)
JessiejJessie J — Who You Are (Spring TBA): The buzz is deafening for this English performer, already the recipient of the Critics Choice award at the BRIT Awards 2011. Is she all that? Single "Do It Like a Dude" out-snarks Ke$ha, and "Price Tag" is a slice of Adele-like soul. So, yeah, she just might be.

Dom — Sun Bronzed Greek God (February 15) Like the title of their E.P., this Worcester, MA quartet's fuzzed-out surf riffs sound like they've been sun-baked for days. And with their singer’s androgynous voice, they also recall Silversun Pickups riding the wave of '90s alt-poppers The Primitives.

Also: The Decemberists — The King Is Dead, The Script — Science and Faith (January 18); Ben + Vesper — Honors, Cold War Kids — Mine Is Yours, David Guetta — One More Love, Radio Dept. — Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (January 25); Green Day — Awesome As Fuck (March 15); The Human League — Credo (import, March 21); Yelle — Safari Disco Club (March 29); Dirty Vegas — Electric Love (get the single free on Amazon today; April 26)

AuditoriumAuditorium — Be Brave (January 18): Auditorium is one Spencer Berger, who grew up on the stage of the Met and now sings acoustic tunes that frame his quivering, unearthly voice. Be Brave may be stripped back and simple, but it’s got variety to spare from the glammy "Girls Will Love Your Lips" (free download in player) to the folksy dirge of "New York Sky."

TinadicoTina Dico — Welcome Back Colour (February 1): The seventh release from the Danish singer-songwriter's a double CD of five new tracks, her overseas radio hits and acoustic versions of well-loved cuts. Since many here don’t know her yet, this would be the place to start. (Free download of single "Love All Around" in player.)
BirdsongBirdsong At Morning — Annals of My Glass House (February 1): These Massachusetts  professionals — a professor, a business VP and a new media consultant — make gorgeous acoustic music. This collection of four E.P.s from 2009 and 2010 feature lovelorn originals ("Those Beautiful Words") and inspired covers (Blondie's "Dreaming" is a highlight).

Also: James Blunt — Some Kind of Trouble (January 18); Iron & Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean (January 25); Noah and the Whale — Last Night On Earth; Heidecker & Wood — Starting From Nowhere (March 15).

RoadRufus Wainwright and Jake Shears are the subjects of photographer Tim Hailand's two new A Day in the Life... books, due out next month. Hailand spent a day photographing each of them, from morning until night, including live performances. Jake's book has an intro by Elton John and an afterword by Kylie Minogue, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Elton John AIDS Foundation; Rufus's book has an afterword by Cherry Vanilla, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Kate McGarrigle Fund. Shears and Wainwright each wrote the text that accompanies the photos in their books.

RoadOrchestral Manouevres in the Dark announced North American tour dates to support their History of Modern comeback album, starting March 5 in Toronto.

RoadPenguin Prison (see video at bottom) will be accompanying sample-meister Girl Talk on tour this Spring. Tour schedule here.

RoadGossip's Beth Ditto has released a 4-track digital EP (also on limited edition vinyl) produced by Simian Mobile Disco, with whom she collaborated on 2009's fantastic "Cruel Intentions."

RoadJanet Jackson's new greatest hits tour, Number Ones, Up Close and Personal, begins March 7 in Chicago. She also publishes a diet and exercise book called True You on February 8.

Road Frankmusik-e1293993698572-520x2681 Frankmusik is giving away a new 4-track digital EP, featuring "Our Discovery," a tribute to Daft Punk.

RoadKylie tours America this spring.


Hercules & Love Affair — "My House"
DJ Andy Butler’s NY house music project follows up Hercules' sparkling debut with this teaser single from their forthcoming Blue Songs release. And, honey, this dance jam's so hot it could melt the snow right off your L.E.S. tenement steps.

Penguin Prison — "Golden Train"
The video's your standard performance clip with manipulated footage (slo-mo, pixilation, etc.), but Chris Glover aka Penguin Prison, with the help of Holy Ghost's Alex Frankel, is one funky white boy.

Discodeine feat. Jarvis Cocker — "Synchronize"
Pulp’s unkempt frontman lends steely vocals to a bouncy dance track from Discodeine’s French DJ-producers Pilooski and Pentile. Note for the squeamish — the close-up of one lover giving another a homemade tattoo is, well, graphic.

Wolf Gang — "Lions in Cages"
A gloomy, autumnal clip accompanies the dark, roiling dance-pop of England’s Max McElligott aka Wolf Gang. Debut Suego Faults is due mid-2011.

Ciara, Michael Jackson, Diddy-Dirty Money, Kandi, Keri Hilson

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a free daily email delivering gay-approved pop culture gems before they get co-opted by everyone else — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.


We're taking time off to bask in the holidays, so here's the last Modern Tonic column for 2010 until after — to quote last week’s 30 Rock — New Queer's Eve.
CiaraOn the evidence of her fourth release, the Basic Instinct that Ciara named her album after is a carnal one indeed. Produced by the singer with her A&R agent Mark Pitts and writing/production duo Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, Basic Instinct knows how to get a party started with the low riding title track "Basic Instinct (U Got Me)," all screeching synths and window-rumbling bass. From there we get the Ludacris-assisted "Ride" (go on, just guess what he wants to ride) and the ass-shaking "Gimmie Dat." She gets experimental on the primal, ambient showpieces "Yeah I Know" and "You Can Get It," which sound like what the xx might do if they became club crawlers. And "Wants for Dinner" — a reggaeton skank punctuated with piano flourishes — is about a whole 'nother basic instinct, which we'd tell you all about except, well, our mouth is full.
MJ Grumblings about the first posthumous Michael Jackson release, titled MichaelThat's not really Michael singing! He wouldn't have wanted these unfinished tracks released! — strike us as churlish. Sure, we approached these 10 tracks with trepidation — before he was sainted, Jackson was on a creative downward slide that he was attempting to triage. So here's the news: Michael is no Thriller, but it's no Invincible, either. There are some good-time grooves here — especially the graceful "Hollywood Tonight," the self-aware "Breaking News" and the disco-kissed "Behind the Mask." He also rocks hard on the crunchy "(I Can’t Make It) Another Day," with the help of Lenny Kravitz. Considering that the songs were basically work tapes and demos, producer Rodney Jerkins has done a superlative job of culling the wheat from the chaff. And though Jackson was a hardcore perfectionist, it’s good to hear the spontaneity in his voice. Chances are he would have re-recorded all of these vocals and, considering his output that last 20 years, chances are he would have ruined them.
LasttrainIt's been so long since Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Sean Combs/Sean John/Diddy/Diddy-Dirty Money put out music, we forget that he wasn't just an actor, producer and fashionista. His last album came out only four years ago, but it's been easy to forget his musical output. So Diddy-Dirty Money's Last Train to Paris is both a re-introduction and renewal for the Grammy® winner. With help from singers Dawn Richard (Danity Kane) and Kalenna Harper — who put the 'dirty' in Dirty Money — Diddy fashions a concept album about chasing the woman of his dreams across Europe. The hip-hop beats are infused with European electro: Grime gets greasy on "Yeah Yeah You Would," with Diddy-Dirty Money dropping soul bombs while Grace Jones adds her steely European hauteur. "Ass On the Floor" (video at link; lyrics NSFW) — with Swizz Beatz (aka Mr. Alicia Keys) — brings Motown to Ibiza. And "Yesterday" polishes the dark underpinnings of dubstep until it’s shiny enough for radio play.


Image RoadMEN, the band featuring Le Tigre's JD Samson, have announced US and European spring tour dates in support of their debut album Talk About Body (out February 1; album cover art at right).

RoadRobyn has launched an "Interactive Beat Machine" with sound parts from her track "We Dance To The Beat" with accompanying video images for users to create their own song/video. Also, the singer performed at Norway's Nobel Peace Prize event on Saturday.

RoadNME now taking votes for album cover of the year.

RoadSwedish singer Lykke Li on heartbreak and unhappiness and how they've informed her sophomore album, due out next year.

RoadCitiGroup to take control of EMI by Christmas?
AIRoadAn impressive roster of music producers — including Alex da Kid, Tricky Stewart and Darkchild — is mentoring auditioning contestants for this season's American Idol.

RoadRecord labels target, and shutter, music blogs that host leaked tracks.


Kandi If you’re diabetic you might want to stay away from Kandi’s Kandi Koated — 12 R&B gems (with three interludes) about one sweet, sweet love. (Out today.)  

If you look up 'prolific' in the dictionary, you'll probably see a picture of Ryan Adams, who with his band the Cardinals releases the rock solid III/IV double album today. It’s his 13th since 2000.
Soundtrack geeks — and you know who are you — December 21st is your lucky day. The classical music imprimatur Varese Sarabande releases 20th Century Fox: 75 Years of Great Film Music.
KeriGrrll power gets a makeover on Keri Hilson's sophomore release No Boys Allowed, featuring the loping single "Pretty Girl Rock" and the promiscuity anthem "One Night Stand" (Out December 21.)

Also out today:  Crystal Bowersox — Farmer's Daughter; R. Kelly — Love Letter; Tank — Now or Never; Leona Lewis — The Labyrinth Tour: Live from the O2 (CD/DVD); Shriekback — Life in the Loading Bay

Out December 21: Duran Duran — All You Need Is Now; Jamie Foxx — Best Night of My Life; Keyshia Cole — Calling All Hearts; Avant — The Letter


Fujiya & Miyagi — "Yo-Yo"
In an old vaudeville theater, a yo-yo specialist faces off with stiff competition from a hula hoop girl, a bodybuilder and a ventriloquist. This gently insinuating electronic track is from the Brighton quartet’s forthcoming Ventriloquizzing.

Carte Blanche feat. Kid Sister — "Do! Do! Do!"
Carte Blanche is Riton and DJ Mehdi, and with rap artist Kid Sister they offer this goofy clip wherein a graphic artist’s bootylicious creation escapes her Mac for frolicking and butt-shaking good times.

Fenech-Soler — "Demons"
This frenetic dance track from the U.K. foursome gets a ghostly, slo-mo clip with lots of mood lighting, fog and close-ups of bodies in freefall.

SHOWstudio — "Tribute to Alexander McQueen"
Photographer Nick Knight and Björk — in dissonant orchestral mode — collaborate on this artsy, celestial tribute to the late fashion icon, featuring couture creations that’d be sure to bring the "Wow Factor" to Project Runway judges. 

MUSIC NEWS — HOLIDAY 2010 EDITION: Annie Lennox, Mariah Carey, Shelby Lynne, Wilson Phillips, Olivia Newton-John, Glee, The Superions; plus David Guetta and Rihanna, Natalia Kills, Chrisette Michele, Simian Mobile Disco, Jazmine Sullivan

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a free daily email delivering gay-approved pop culture gems before they get co-opted by everyone else — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.


'Tis the season when Sugar Plum Fairies — dressed like go-go boys, of course — dance in our heads. And they have some new tunes for all that holiday gyrating. Here's the best of the chestnut-roasting season soundtracks (all available now):

Annielennoxchristmas1011-1Annie Lennox, the big-lunged voice of Eurythmics, offers English madrigals ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"), dark ballads ("In the Bleak Midwinter") and a gorgeous addition to the Christmas canon with her own "Universal Child" on A Christmas Cornucopia.

Mariah-carey-xmas-x2 Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas II You is as curvaceous and inviting as her hip-hugging red-velvet Santa suit on the cover. The traditional songs are good, but the originals are the standouts, especially "Oh Santa!" — a finger-snapping, new-fangled classic that swoops in with a Celtic trill that could either be a pennywhistle or Mimi herself. Who can tell?
ShelbyLynne-Xmas-CoverThe soulful country-pop voice of Shelby Lynne adds a sexy sheen and down-home charm to 9 covers and two originals on Merry Christmas, her first holiday record. Those two originals — the country-swinging "Ain't Nothin' Like Christmas" and the down-tempo melancholy of "Xmas" — make us hope it’s not her last. Stream "Ain't Nothin' Like Christmas" in player below.
Wilson-Phillips_XMAS_cvr_5x Responsible for their 10-million-selling debut, producer Glen Ballard returns to the fold for Wilson Phillips' Christmas in Harmony, 13 holiday tunes sun-drenched with California sunshine, including the swinging "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" (stream in player below) and "Warm Lovin' Christmastime." Surf’s up, Santa!
ONJ-Christmas-Collection-co Olivia Newton-John's fourth Christmas release Christmas Collection is a gently grooving, breezy romp through holiday favorites featuring Vince Gill ("Away in a Manger"), Clint Black ("Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!") and the London Symphony Orchestra. And at 62, ON-J's voice is as pure and angelic as ever, a gift that keeps on giving. Stream "Christmas Never Felt Like This Before" in player below.
Jessica-Simpson-Happy-Chris While we've never been ones to get all misty-eyed over the oeuvre of Jessica Simpson, her second holiday release Happy Christmas is a lovely surprise. She duets with the always-reliable Willie Nelson on a bluesy "Merry Christmas, Baby," offers a sweet-natured original, "My Only Wish," and covers John & Yoko’s "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" without making a fool of herself.
Glee The Glee gang gets in on the holiday action with Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album. Which one's getting the most action on the Modern Tonic rotation? "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" featuring k.d. lang and the touching duet "Baby, It's Cold Outside" between Kurt (Chris Colfer) and his supremely talented, adorable friend Blaine (Darren Criss).

DestinationNow, what's a holiday without fruitcake? The Superions — with the B-52's Fred Schneider and instrumentalists Noah Brodie and Dan Marshall — set their sights on Destination… Christmas! It's a holiday hoot featuring "Santa's Disco," the lascivious "Jingle Those Bells" and the delicious synth-pop confection "Fruitcake" (free download in player below).

Puppini Bonus free downloads: two tracks from The Puppini Sisters, "Santa Baby" and a cover of Wham's "Last Christmas" from their new album Christmas With the Puppini Sisters." Also in our player is Little & Ashley's "Winter Night" from the L.A.-based duo's new Winter Night EP

Towleroad November 30, 2010 by


Road We want to comment on our review of Nicki Minaj's album Pink Friday which ran here last week. Eminem's guest rap on "Roman's Revenge" contains the use of the word "faggot" and some other homophobic lyrics. We regret not pointing this out and taking it into consideration in our review of the album. Regardless of our otherwise positive take, we find it unacceptable that Eminem's rap appears on the album of an artist who had only recently positioned herself as gay-friendly.

Road Susan Boyle gets a frog in her throat.

Crlbu Road David Guetta is re-releasing his smash album One Love as One More Love (out now as an import; US release TBD), with an additional disc of 12 bonus tracks. Included is his collaboration with Rihanna, "Who's That Chick?" (aka the track from the Doritos commercial), also available now as a single. Stream the FMIF Remix in our player above.

Road Listen to a twenty-minute megamix of Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack.

Road Lady Gaga says Born This Way is "f***ing really good" and that it will be "the greatest album of this decade."

Road Yet another Michael Jackson track emerges from the vaults. Ping has debuted the Thrilller-era "Much Too Soon," the closing track from Michael, out December 14. (Go to MJ's page on Ping in iTunes to hear the track).

Natalia Road Frankmusik has remixed Natalia Kills' "Mirrors" (free download in player above). The new video for the track, from Kills' debut album Perfectionist, due in March, will be released December 6. Kills was also in the studio with Frankmusik to work on a track for his new album, due next spring.

Road Bono and The Edge talk about Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, the mega-million dollar musical for which they wrote the score.


The Black Eyed Peas return with The Beginning, not as slamming as the highlights of The E.N.D., but more consistent. Standouts: the feel-good single "Light Up the Night" and Fergie's punk-rock hiccups on "The Situation."

SimianMobileDisco-DelicacieUK dance duo Simian Mobile Disco get techno-licious on Delicacies — a collection of instrumental dance tracks on two discs (one CD with separate tracks; the second a mix). Most delectable: the Krautrock-meets-OMD closer "Ortolan." Free download of the radio edit of "Sweetbread" in our player above.

After topping the charts with her second release Epiphany, R&B singer Chrisette Michele deserves to open her third album Let Freedom Reign with the mid-tempo groove of "I'm a Star" and follow it up with "Number One." If it weren’t for those pesky Black Eyed Peas, she’d probably hit that height again. Stream the Andy Zulla dance mix of "Boys Cry Too" in our player above.

Philly soul sister Jazmine Sullivan throws down on her sophomore release Love Me Back, 11 tough-minded tracks about love and loss produced by Missy Elliott (the neo-soul "Excuse Me"), "Holding You Down (Goin' in Circles)"), Ne-Yo (who also duets on "U Get On My Nerves") and more. Stream single "10 Seconds" in player above.

Beyonce Also out:  Various Artists – Glee: The Music, Volume Four; Beyoncé — I Am… World Tour (CD/DVD); Ron Isley — Mr. I; Fefe Dobson – Joy; Black Swan Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Active Child — "I'm in Your Church at Night"
In a storm of flour, three zaftig bakers create angelic human beings, one of whom is L.A.-based songwriter Pat Grossi aka Active Child. Surreal, beatific and as luminous as Grossi’s unearthly, keening voice.

Cheryl Cole "The Flood"
A windy beachside provides the backdrop for Cheryl Cole's hybrid love tune that begins with a gentle country vibe before slamming home on a sing-along-and-sing-it-out-loud pop chorus. From her second solo album, Messy Little Raindrops.

Sander Kleinenberg feat. Jamie Cullum "Remember When"
Dutch DJ/producer Kleinenberg invites jazz-pop dandy Cullum to get his Timberlake on for this funky Eurodisco jam shot in a brightly lighted subway-cum-disco. From his new disc 5k.

Jamie Woon "Night Air"
London newcomer Woon strolls through a fecund woodland nightscape in this evocative clip for his eerie, dubstep-influenced electro single. His anticipated debut’s due in 2011.

MUSIC NEWS: Rihanna, Annie Lennox, P!nk, Nelly Furtado, Norah Jones, Girl Talk, Adam Lambert, Duran Duran, Kitsuné Maison

GuestbloggerMODERN TONIC

Modern Tonic — a free daily email delivering gay-approved pop culture gems before they get co-opted by everyone else — presents a weekly music update here on Towleroad.

Rihanna_ALBUMCOVER Maybe it’s just us, but we were underwhelmed by Rated R, Rihanna’s 2009 release after her domestic abuse travails with Chris Brown. It was described as dark, but it wasn’t dark enough — she just couldn’t seem to get her head around the experience. Her fifth release LOUD is a relief — a return to the pop pleasures of a good-time girl with attitude and beats to spare. Honestly, how serious can you get when you launch your record with a jumpy club banger about the delights of "S&M"? LOUD’s already produced two hit singles — the pulsing "Only Girl (In the World)" and the hip-hop "What’s My Name?" with Drake. She follows up her recent Eminem smash with "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" and jams with the ubiquitous Nicki Minaj on the synthetic reggae of "Raining Men" (alas, not the gay classic by the Weather Girls). Nine producers worked on the record, but it’s one singular vision that prevails: Rihanna’s. Now that’s something to get loud about.

AccShe’s been a brass disco dominatrix, a feral rock chick and a sensitive solo artist who put some much needed bite in the Adult Contemporary playlist. But no matter the guise, Annie Lennox has always been herself — a playful performer who uses masks and prisms to reflect deeper truths about herself and us. So it may come as a shock to hear her traipsing through the canon of holiday songs on A Christmas Cornucopia. The most traditional songs here — "The First Noel" and "Silent Night" — go to the head of the class on vocal prowess alone. After that, well, she gives us pieces obscure to American ears: an English madrigal ("Lullay Lullay (The Coventry Carol)"), a French lullaby ("Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant"), a fable ("The Holly and the Ivy"). Her pagan romp through "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (with a video that’s both beatific and creepy) is a highlight and a beautiful ballad of her own composition — "Universal Child" — will be a welcome addition to her next greatest hits collection. Never let it be said that the woman doesn’t give it her all.
Pink Speaking of greatest hits, it’s that time of year for the holiday parade of best-of’s and compilations. Featuring three new tracks — including the crunchy single "Raise Your Glass" — P!nk’s Greatest Hits…So Far!!! includes her best known tracks since she got the party started at the turn of the century. Also featuring three new songs — including the club-ready "Night Is Young" — Nelly Furtado’s The Best of Nelly Furtado has her biggest tracks, "I’m Like a Bird" and "Promiscuous," as well as selections from her Spanish-language release Mi Plan. Norah Jones …Featuring is a collection of her duets over the last eight years. Though she’s a star in her own right, her collaborations are where she does some of her best work, including a lovely low-key "Little Lou, Prophet Jack, Ugly John" with Belle & Sebastian and a Christmas chestnut with Willie Nelson, "Baby, It’s Cold Outside."

Towleroad November 16, 2010 by


Allday_frontcover RoadGregg Gillis, dba Girl Talk, has unleashed All Day, the follow-up to his brilliant mash-up album from 2008 Feed The Animals. Featuring 373 song samples (from artists as wide-ranging as Lady Gaga, Depeche Mode, M.I.A., Neil Diamond, Bananarama and even a snippet of Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair") this epic album, available as a continuous mix or separated tracks, is being given away entirely free here.

Road"Stole My Heart," one of Los Angeles-based duo Little & Ashley's three tracks featured on a series of Amazon's Kindle TV commercials, is a gem. These two sometime actors (Annie Little has appeared on Mad Men and Scrubs and Marcus Ashley on Bones and CSI: NY), have a new holiday track coming as well (UK readers will hear it on Amazon UK's Kindle holiday ads). Get a free download of "Stole My Heart" in player above.

Att1cc17  RoadAdam Lambert will release a 5-track EP, Acoustic Live!, on December 6. The digital release includes five songs from For Your Entertainment, including "Whataya Want From Me." Pre-orders on his site get an instant download of that track.

 RoadAdele's video for "Rolling in the Deep," the lead single from forthcoming album 21, has premiered. The singer will perform the track December 3 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

RoadSony Music predicting big sales for Michael Jackson's Michael, the collection of previously unreleased material out December 14.

RoadStream the entire soundtrack of the Cher/Christina Aguilera film Burlesque (album out next Monday).

RoadMark your calendars for Pink Friday.

Image RoadDuran Duran's thirteenth studio album, All You Need Is Now, will debut on iTunes December 21 as a nine-track album, followed by the physical release, with four more tracks, in February 2011. The album is produced by superstar DJ/producer Mark Ronson. Lead single (which shares the same name as the album title) debuts December 14 on iTunes.


After their Brokeback romance video "Shame" turned them into the real backstreet boys, Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow reconvene the original Take That for Progress (import-only), their sixth release and first with Williams since 1995.
Maiosn The tenth Kitsuné Maison compilation, Kitsuné Maison 10 — The Fireworks Issue, is a double-disc celebration featuring the Mustang Remix of Two Door Cinema Club’s "What You Know," Yelle’s international smash "La Musique" and tons of new discoveries waiting to happen. Download free mp3's of samplers of each of the discs in the player above.
London’s Bombay Bicycle Club follows up its powerful debut I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose with the acoustic musings of the equally powerful Flaws.

After channeling the girl-group vibe on their debut We Are the Pipettes — and losing member Rose Elinor Dougall — the reconstituted duo now tackles Bananarama on Earth vs. the Pipettes.

Also out today: Various Artists — Glee: The Christmas Album; Nelly — 5.0; Josh Groban — Illuminations; Lee DeWyze — Live It Up; Mariah Carey — Merry Christmas II You (Collector’s Edition); Bruce Springsteen — The Promise; Pink Martini — Joy to the World ; Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (DVD/BD)


Lucy Schwartz — "Graveyard"
The L.A. piano songstress creates a suitably murky, shadowy clip for the sad romantics stumbling through life halfway between this world and the next. From her recently released debut Life in Letters.

Cocknbullkid — "One Eye Closed"
Anita Blay — the U.K. genre-hopper known as Cocknbullkid — previews her 2011 debut Adulthood with a spy-guitar raver and this clip featuring a one-eyed plushie monster on the prowl.

Kraak & Smaak — "Dynamite"
Vinyl fetishism gets its due in this outlandish, surrealist clip from the premiere Dutch dance trio Kraak & Smaak. Rumors abound that they’re working on a follow-up to the dancetastic Plastic People.

Shit Robot — "Take ‘Em Up"
LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang trails herself on a trippy Brooklyn stroll in Marcus Lambkin’s (aka Shit Robot) mid-tempo disco track. From his debut From the Cradle to the Rave.


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