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#FridayFind | Bruce Hornsby & the Range – Mandolin Rain

Bruce Hornsby’s hits definitely evoke a sort of hokey early alt-country fused with pop music. And yet, he remained in loyal to his hardcore fans. Over the course of roughly 18 albums in various incarnations of bands he’s fronted too. So respected was he, across the musical spectrum, he even played 100 shows with the Grateful Dead. Songs like “Mandolin Rain” definitely come off cheesy, but multi-layered. One cannot ignore the musicality as well as his influence upon today’s popular music.

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For instance alt-country icon Ryan Adams (above) to The War on Drugs are undoubtedly outright or even closet fans to be sure. It’s a great tune for a summer evening — or a late spring one, thanks climate change.

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#FridayFind | Marvelous 3 – Freak of the Week

“Tell me I’ve sold out / Tell me I’ve sold out go ahead”

Okay Butch, you sold out. But it’s okay. You left us this wonderful nugget, this pop-punk singalong anthem. The Marvelous 3 was the short-lived brainchild of Butch Walker (Lead Singer/Guitarist), Doug Mitchell (Drums), and bassist Jayce Fincher.

With this scream-along chorus, you know during their short tenure, a bunch of kids crowd surfed, skanked and slam-danced to this song on many summer afternoons. With spring just yearning to come back here in the Northeast U.S., I find myself needing some more summer anthems to keep me warm. How about you?

Growing up in Ohio, there was a term thrown around for punks, goths and rocker kids. That term was – “freaks” in my high school. And so when this song came out, I definitely associated the song with me and my crew. And the music video got plenty of airplay on MTV.

These days, Butch has kept his solo career going. He’s softened a bit to more pure singer/songwriter territory these days. Lots of piano, acoustic guitars, but his voice still remains his best instrument in my opinion.

“Freak of the Week” happens to be the first One Hit Wonder I’ve chosen for The Guilty Mixtape. Which, coincidentally go hand-in-hand in my opinion. And I look forward to posting many more. Happy Weekend!

 

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#FridayFind | Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning”

This song should not have been a hit. There, I said it. This song is a sort of anthem… for paying your rent? By Australians? In a bizarre chorus that I can only imagine is two roommates arguing about the world at large (“How can we dance when the earth is turning?/How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”) and their unpaid rent. At the very least one of them turns out to be the voice of reason!

Digging deeper, it actually turns out to be a protest song with the goal of returning lands to the Aboriginal Pintupi tribe. Which now explains the anti-Imperialist lyric: “Four wheels scare the cockatoos/From Kintore East to Yuendemu”.

What makes this song such a guilty pleasure for me is the raw, unpolished vocals that typified most 80’s New Wave of it’s day. Lead singer Peter Garrett does not try to “Americanize” his voice, instead accentuating the accent throughout. And who doesn’t like a song that starts with epic trumpet blasts?

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#FridayFind | Jon Secada – Just Another Day

It was probably the late Nineties, just before my high school graduation. I was at a wedding for my good friend Elijah’s family. Growing up together, he and I shared lots of music with each other. He was a brother from another mother. Most days we hung out, we definitely rocked out to some heavy metal and bobbed our heads to tons of old school hip-hop. But we both had soft spots for R&B ballads, those tunes we wanted to sing to our girlfriends. Or put on our cheesy mixtapes to them, that we’d pass to them while passing notes between school periods.

Now up until this point, I had absolutely heard “Just Another Day” at grocery stores and on “Yo! MTV Raps” or another R&B music video block. And I quietly liked it from afar. Well this wedding cemented it. Someone was playing DJ on an AIWA Boombox and some CD booklets and for some reason this song kept getting repeated. I thought eventually people would mutiny and take over, but for some reason – no. one. cared.

And I know EXACTLY why. This song is amazing.

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#FridayFind | Robyn – Show Me Love

“Show Me Love”, the 1997 hit that Robyn penned with Swedish hit-maker Max Martin (“…Baby One More Time”) was a track off her debut album “Robyn is Here”. My girlfriend at the time had the CD and would repeatedly play it in her bedroom after school while we’d hang out. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this song would earworm it’s way into my heart. Today, Robyn has moved from Britney Spears territory into a firm Kylie Minogue-like existence with the dance-floor sensation hit “Dancing on My Own”. Today, she’s essentially moved firmly from the mainstream to indie darling with interviews in Pitchfork or collaborations with Norway’s electric duo Röyksopp.

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#FridayFind | ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down

Who would’ve thought Jeff Lyne’s biggest hit in the U.S. would be the song he dedicated to NASA’s Skylab Space Station? A looped drum sample from “On the Run” is the backbone for this clap-inducing tune. The album “Discovery” in 1979 was definitely where the band pushed wholeheartedly from orchestral space pop into pure disco territory. A few tunes of theirs leaned disco including “Evil Woman” (1975 – Face the Music) and “Livin’ Thing” (1976 – A New World Record), so it was a natural progression for Jeff Lyne to go “full Bee Gees” as it were.

While the rest of the album is certainly far too smooth and relaxed for my taste, the final track really brings an energy you cannot ignore. The crisp drum sample paired with the harmony driven lyrics is just… perfection.

Just as the lyrics state, it’s Friday, “Don’t Bring me Down”.

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#FridayFind | Toto – Africa

The time has come for my inaugural #FridayFind guilty pleasure pick. And what better artist to start out with than Toto, and their amazing #1 hit “Africa”.

Why has this tune endured for me? Partially because the lyrics make absolutely no sense. I have no idea why a woman coming on a mid-day flight has any damn thing to do with rains in another country. And I don’t know why a man cares about Mount Kilimanjaro’s similarities to Mount Olympus. My money is on keyboardist/vocalist David Paich and drummer Jeff Porcaro merely needing lyric lines to rhyme.

While not quite as embarrassing to knowing all the words to “Careless Whisper”, when I was a young lad, I would rather die than admit that this cheesy song was one of my all-time favorites. It wasn’t until I grew into my own in NYC and a close buddy, tech journalist Chris Velazco, shared his joy for the tune too! What followed was repeated karaoke entries of the song at Sing Sing and other dingy sing-along ‘oke bars across the 5 boroughs.

One such occasion happened in San Francisco in front of a majority of my colleagues at TechCrunch. The moment I submitted it, a pang of fear gripped me. What if we were laughed out of the room? Surely such an unironic tune with a killer marimba and pitch perfect harmonies would get the crowd going? To my undying joy and adulation, nearly everyone gleefully joined in with singing at the top of their lungs.

As you can see, even to this day, I quite enjoy the thigh-slapping action a good jam of “Africa” produces.

So this just happened #africa

A video posted by Chris Velazco (@vlzco) on

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