Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hear the New Kylie Minogue Track "Sparks"

Kylie Minogue is surely one of the most durable pop stars of our time. It's hard to think of many other artists who began their careers in the 1980s ("The Loco-Motion" debuted in 1987) still releasing relevant pop music (as her upcoming album Kiss Me Once seems likely to be) in 2014.

Kylie Minogue Sparks

The album's lead single, "Into The Blue," is at least as solid as your average Kylie single. It has its official sale release today in the UK, whose weird music release practices often involve radio release long before anyone is allowed to purchase a single (also released today: Katy Perry's "Dark Horse"), which just seems baffling in the digital age (although the UK music charts are purely sales- and not radio-based, which I definitely like).

Kylie is an old pro from the era when singles had physical releases, first as 7" vinyl records and later as CDs, and in those days it made sense to include an additional track, or B-side, that wouldn't appear on the main album but would still fit the album's vibe. The B-side was the ancestor of the bonus track. And in today's digital, track-based sales environment, there's no need for, nor much sense in, B-sides with a single release. But Kylie's still in the habit - internet be damned! - and today's UK single release of "Into the Blue" includes the B-side "Sparks," produced by Matt Schwartz and written by Karen Poole, the team behind Minogue's 2012 one-off single "Timebomb" (Poole also wrote past singles "Red Blooded Woman," "Chocolate," and "Wow").

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Adele Dazeem and Oscar's Big Music Problem

There wasn't much air left in the tires by the time the 86th Academy Awards rolled around on Sunday, and it wasn't just Putin's fault. Certainly the Olympics-mandated extended wait between the nominations and the ceremony (six and a half weeks, instead of the usual four and a half) - not to mention those two weeks the nation spent binging on winter sports and the progression of Bob Costas' pink eye - had much to do with it (although the telecast had 43.74 million viewers, the most since 2000).

The other part of this year's ho-hummitude was a combination of extreme predictability and relative inaccessibility of most if not all of the likely winners in the high profile acting, writing, and best picture categories - also known as the only categories not expected to be taken by Gravity or Frozen. And, sure enough, in those categories we got three Oscars for "slavery is bad," two for "AIDS is bad," and one for the Woody Allen movie. You could forgive any but the most ardent Oscars nut for tuning out or falling asleep after Best Original Song (I did). Not until then, of course, since this year's Best Original Song category offered one of the only semi-dramatic races, and not just (I don't think) for pop music partisans like me.

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