Category Archives: Pop

Glorious: Kim Yu-Na’s Gold in Vancouver; Lionel Loueke and Angelique Kidjo’s Performance on “Ami O”

When Kim Yu-Na, the Korean “rock star” figure skater, neared the end of her gold-winning performance in Vancouver, commentator Sandra Bezic declared, “This is glorious… one of the greatest Olympic performances I have ever seen.”

I felt a similar sense of WTF when I first heard the song, “Ami O,” on jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke’s new album Mwaliko (released March 1, 2010, Blue Note Records).

Lionel Loueke

You can check out the track on Loueke’s MySpace site.

In my research for this review, I learned that “Ami O,” is a popular international hit, originally penned in 1962 by Cameroon’s Ebanda Manfred (entitled “Amie,” French for friend). Bebe Manga, also from Cameroon, covered the song, which she called “Amio,” in the ‘80s to wide acclaim. Countless artists have recorded the song since. One article I read likened “Amio’s” popularity to that of the Cuban song “Guantanamera” by Joseíto Fernández.

Loueke, who has made a name for himself in recent years for his fusion of African and jazz music, is joined on “Ami O” by legendary vocalist Angelique Kidjo, who gives an athletic interpretation of the song.

I saw Kidjo in Houston several years ago at the International festival, and she is equal parts great singer and exciting entertainer. I wouldn’t describe her voice as pretty; it’s more muscular than that. On “Ami O,” she belts out the lyrics from start to finish, kind of like a triple lutz of the vocal chords.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=kidjo&iid=1509659″ src=”e/0/f/1/39th_NAACP_Image_4537.jpg?adImageId=11204760&imageId=1509659″ width=”500″ height=”364″ /] Angelique Kidjo

Loueke doesn’t play the song safe, either; no Freddie Green modesty here. He is matching Kidjo step for step, bringing in percussive picking, polyrhythmic accents against jazz harmonies. And that’s just his guitar. He also displays an African version of beat box to great effect.

By the way, Loueke and Kidjo go way back. Their families knew each other in Benin,  and the history between the two artists shows. Their rhythmic reference points allow them to interact with such ease that this listener can’t help but be spellbound.

So check out “Ami O” and use your own superlatives to try to explain in words what Loueke and Kidjo so effortlessly share through their respective instruments, vocal or otherwise.

As a side note, in 2008, I saw Loueke play with his trio and with Herbie Hancock at the Vancouver Jazz Festival as the city was preparing for the 2010 Olympics. Loueke’s trio was tight as an accountant on April 14th, which was such a contrast to Herbie’s group. I feel terrible saying it, because I’m one of Hancock’s biggest fans, but that night, Herbie’s band, which included drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (who is also terrific), sounded like several musicians playing together, but with ear plugs so they couldn’t hear each other. I was so disappointed, I left early.

Lyric Request: If you have the lyrics to “Ami O,” either in French or English, please post them in the comments section of this review. Thanks!

Sources:

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A Proposal to Have Chazz Michael Michaels Star in a “Let’s Write a Book” Video by Field Music

Here’s the video to “Let’s Write a Book” released on May 11, 2010.

Not that the guys in British alt. pop group Field Music should listen to me, but here’s an idea for a Field Music video that’s sure to make the kids say “that’s beast!”

On Jan. 12, 2010, the group released the single, “Let’s Write a Book,” from the upcoming double-album, “Field Music (Measure).”

For me, the track evokes images of Prince writhing in funky purple accompanied by a leather-clad Terminator bodyguard (1984 vintage), while David “Burning Down the House” Byrne jumps up and down on stage. Add to the party what sounds like the Blue Man Group banging on those weird tubes, and you have a pretty good idea of how this song feels. It feels good…

Listen to Lets Write a Book Here

Brothers and co-front men David and Peter Brewis of Field Music

With that said, who could encompass all of the above to star in an epic music video for the song? With his ‘80s-big-hair-macho, my vote would be for Chazz Michael Michaels, co-lead character in the 2007 movie, “Blades of Glory.”

Here’s how this whole video thing could go down:

Verse 1
“Let’s not apologise
Let’s not assume blame
And if there’s a whisper of dissent
Send it to the library”

In a sleeveless shirt, terrycloth headband and red leather pants and boots, Chazz struts down an aisle of books at the library. He winks at a sexy librarian, and then spins to look into the camera with his index finger over his lips (shhhhhhhhh!)

During the ensuing xylophone barrage, we see Chazz pop-locking and doing the robot at the book return desk.

Verse 2
“Oh honey, dearest
We’re all panicking now
I’m minded to take it away
Oh honey, darling
Can we learn to take what’s coming?
Resounding with take, take, take, take”

Chazz raids the kids’ section of the library, taking books from children and shaking his head at them while they cry.

Verse 3
“Let’s write a book
Let’s paint the walls
And if that makes us forget where we are
We’ll always be somewhere else”

Chazz, Michelle Kwan and Oksana Baiul read the book, “The Complete Book of Figure Skating,” together, and then Michelle and Oksana spank Chazz with it.

Oh honey
Oh darling

More pop-locking

And there you have awesomeness.

Be sure to check out Field Music’s new album, which is due out on Feb. 15, 2010. Here’s a link to two free songs: “Each Time is a New Time” and “Measure.” (At the Field Music home page, see the sticker at the bottom middle of the screen that says “click here.”)

You’ll notice the free download songs, are totally different from “Let’s Write a Book,” which is one of the reasons why you should check out this exciting group.

By the way, here’s a video Field Music actually made.

Field Music’s Web sites include:

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A Review of the Song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley: Soundtrack of Emotional Upheaval, Ready for Primetime

(Let me know what you think of this song by leaving a comment.)

To your dismay, the couple you follow on your favorite TV drama has a nasty blowup over infidelity. In a dress by Vera Wang, the distraught woman sobs alone in her dark apartment with her back against the bedroom door. Her scorned lover races off in his 2010 Camaro. He shakes his head in disbelief about the betrayal and then suddenly punches the dash.

In my view, the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the new EP, “Fire Kite,” was born for moments like this.

Listen to the song here

The track explores the kind of emotional hurt that only a romantic relationship can inflict – when your broken heart aches so badly you may need to call an ambulance.

[picapp src=”1/5/4/5/39th_NAACP_Image_06b2.jpg?adImageId=7497018&imageId=1267784″ width=”500″ height=”320″ /](Eisley’s song, “Ambulance” – my vote for the next track featured on “Grey’s Anatomy”)

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics, sung by the band’s keyboard player, Stacy Dupree:

“I need an ambulance, I took the worst of the blow
Send me a redeemer, let me know
If I’m gonna’ be alright, am I’m gonna’ be alright
Cause I know how it usually goes, I know how it usually goes

“I built a monument, for the love we used to know
But that is far removed, and you say
That I’m gonna’ be okay, and yeah I’m gonna’ be okay
But it doesn’t seem that way, no, love, not today

“Cause I was told to get out, told to leave
Told to have my things in the parking lot
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, baby, yeah
Just send me that ambulance, oh
Just send me that ambulance”

Intentionally or not, Eisley, a group from Tyler, Texas, made up of four sibling twenty-somethings and a cousin, has written a song that could fit nicely in the “Grey’s Anatomy” genre of music, an unlikely category that has emerged since the TV show debuted in 2005. Grey’s Anatomy has featured a who’s who of cool young artists, including KT Tunstall, Ingrid Michaelson, Anna Nalick, Brandi Carlile, Peter Bjorn and John, The Bird and the Bee and Feist.

In recent years, Eisley has toured with several well-known bands, including (you may have seen this coming) “Grey’s Anatomy” soundtrack alumni Coldplay, Snow Patrol, The Fray and Gomez.

To get a feel for the song, “Ambulance,” think of the emotional intensity of tunes like Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” along with the sweetness of Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories’ song, “Stay.”

So grab a box of napkins, a quart of ice cream and experience the song, “Ambulance,” by Eisley on the EP “Fire Kite” (Sire Records Company, released Oct. 9, 2009).

Eisley’s web sites include www.eisley.com and www.myspace.com/eisley. The group has a fan page on Facebook.

Sources: www.washingtonpost.com (Eisley: Rock and Relatives – These Four Siblings, Plus One Cousin, Are Truly at Home on the Road, April 18, 2008), www.purevolume.com/eisley, www.cbsnews.com (Grey’s Anatomy Music Revisited, May 17, 2007) and iTunes (Grey’s Anatomy search).

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