Editorial: IS 2023 THE YEAR OF THE THROWBACK?
In the ongoing cycle of music as it relates to its audience at the time, we have seen throwbacks happen twice within the post-Beatles era (1964 to present). A nostalgia craze spearheaded by the film “American Graffiti” in 1973 – which was preceded by the reissue of the 1962 novelty “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett that summer – saw Top 40 radio stations devoting considerable amounts of their programming to “oldies” for about 18 months. And in 1989, some creative program directors at major radio stations across the U.S. revisited records released earlier in the decade like Sheriff’s “When I’m With You”, Benny Mardones’ “Into The Night”, Real Life’s “Send Me An Angel”, and others, with great if short-lived success. Some of those songs became bigger hits than they were the first time around.
Last summer, through the popularity of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”, we saw Kate Bush’s 1985 well-remembered hit “Running Up That Hill” revived through online adulation largely on Tik Tok. Television commercials and Tik Tok led to Sia’s “Unstoppable” becoming a smash after 6 years. More recently, The Weeknd’s 6 year old “Die For You” has become a far bigger hit than the first time around, currently in Billboard’s Top 10, and Lady Gaga’s 11 year old “Bloody Mary” looks like it could follow suit. In the UK, Tom Odell’s 10 year old “Another Love” recently returned to the Top 10, and Miguel’s 12 year old “Sure Thing” has bounded into the Top 20 and also re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 this week.
So while critics are saying that Tik Tok’s peak has passed, which has recently introduced many new artists slowly into the mix like Steve Lacy, Stephen Sanchez, and JVKE, could Tik Tok really be the go-to platform for re-igniting interest in a song in some creative way? We’ll have to see if the bubble is breaking with the recent bunch of revivals.
But don’t conclude that music fans are “looking” for these older releases. Each one has a backstory as to why the additional promotion on Tik Tok has resulted in viral attention, and each one has been a major label release, so the funds to take the promotion to the next level are already there. I’m tired of hearing that people aren’t interested in new music because of oversaturation. If the tastemakers and influencers would get behind independently released music more, the same things could happen to a new performer and make them the Next Big Thing. Mark my word, it will happen, it’s just a matter of when!
You can also read about my pick of the week, along with picks from online radio buddies “Big Daddy” Russ Horton and Hunter Wilbur. “The Musicman” James Rogers remembers songs from 1967 through 1969 this week with his Classic Five pop hits feature. Plus I include my current BILLCS Top 30 #1 song and the Fastest Riser on the chart.
The BILLCS New Music Report is a work-in-progress and I welcome your suggestions so feel free to contact me @billcs on Twitter @thebillcs on Instagram or @BILLCSMusicProjects on Facebook.
CERRONE, MERCER, BRENDAN REILLY, “The Only One”
CERRONE, BRENDAN REILLY, “Supernature”
“The Only One” is a joyous new original that combines the deft talents of veteran French disco producer Cerrone, fellow French dance producer Mercer, and British vocalist Brendan Reilly. The result is a cornucopia of dance music styles, with the song sounding a lot like what Jamiroquai would sound like if Cerrone and Mercer got at them. Cerrone’s indelible, classic electronic synth riffs are omnipresent more than 40 years later, and the funky groove makes “The Only One” impossible to resist. Brendan’s fab, soulful vocal is the icing on the cake – you might remember him for his appearance on “Moving Mountains” from Disclosure’s Grammy-nominated Caracal album. He also sang on Cerrone’s delightful redux of his own classic “Supernature” last year, check it out below too.
S.G. LEWIS, CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON, CHANNEL TRES, “Fever Dreamer”
British electronic producer/DJ S.G. Lewis has long been a festival favourite and despite 10’s of millions of streams, his songs didn’t really start to break through until the past few years with collaborations with Clairo, Robyn, Tove Lo and Nile Rodgers. “Fever Dreamer” is the kind of cool song that could make a difference and follows up his 2021 full album release Times. It’s led by a charming vocal by co-writer and producer Charlotte Day Wilson, a Canadian singer from Toronto who has been nominated for Juno Awards, and who I’ve seen in concert. The rhythm exudes a slick CHIC-kind of funky edge, and Charlotte’s soulful and touching voice draws you in. Channel Tres has worked with S.G. before and he’s an L.A. rapper whose more spoken-word interludes are reminiscent of both Idris Elba and the late Maxi Jazz’s vocals with Faithless. “Fever Dreamer” is an easy, high calibre listen that could also benefit from some creative remixes.
ALOK, JAMES ARTHUR, “Work With My Love”
While producers have covered and used elements of The Shapeshifters’ classic “Lola’s Theme” too numerous of times in the past few years, Brazil’s popular Alok crafts a glistening production that doesn’t put a damper on the original. As has been a recent trend, a new song has been written around it called “Work With My Love”, and I’m wondering if James Arthur shouldn’t record dance tracks more often, thanks to this and his excellent recent Afrojack collaboration “Lose You” (currently moving up my personal chart). The song and vocal are nothing short of top-drawer, and I expect “Work With My Love” will become a dance radio smash.
ELEANOR HAMMOND, “Best of Tonight”
Eleanor Hammond is a new singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist from L.A. whose name you should remember as she releases her latest single “Best of Tonight”. Full of confidence and vigor, which is rooted in creating local stage musicals (including one with red hot amigo Em Beihold), Eleanor gives “Best of Tonight” a passionate vocal in a song that will resonate with many folks who have a memorable time with someone that may not have even led to anything more. The video for the song, captured splendidly by director William Chapin, is garnering attention for helping to normalize same-sex relationships and promote inclusion in that medium. “Best of Tonight” is a fine introduction to Eleanor Hammond, about whom I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more.
BOBBY NOURMAND, “Distortion” (Damon Jee remix)
After venturing into pop territory recently with Capital Cities for their single together “Together” (which peaked at #12 on the BILLCS Top 30), and taking a break from regular releases, L.A.-based progressive electronic producer Bobby Nourmand returns with the dark, disco-flavoured “Distortion”, which is in a remix by veteran producer Damon Jee. This picks up where 2018’s adventurous “Subterranean” and “Estranged” (which reached #1 on the BILLCS Top 30) left off with a hypnotic melody that might strike you as similar to Martin Garrix’s “Animals”. “Distortion” is ideal for late nights either at the club or out for a long drive.
BENJAMIN RUSSELL, ROB STUART, “Something In F Minor”
Canadian producers Benjamin Russell and Rob Stuart have unleashed a massive album project called Something In F Minor, which mixes progressive electronic flavours with rock flourishes, and while definitely not trying to be something to everyone, the album does offer a diverse mix of songs, including the wildly inventive title song. “Something In F Minor” is accompanied by a clever, mostly animated video (somewhat in the vein of Terry Gilliam’s work for Monty Python, but more straight-forward) that will appeal to fans of modern art, and includes not only original artwork by Benjamin, but from artists like Rousseau, Ernst, Magritte and Dali. Benjamin is also the singer and co-songwriter (with spouse Elyse), and I recently wrote about one of the album’s other tracks, the party anthem “Yell”. He also re-recorded his 1984 release “Miracle” for the album, but I must admit I’m still quite attached to the synth pop of the original. Benjamin’s at times theatrical sounding vocal sounds great on “Something In F Minor”, and also anchors other intriguing songs on the album like its hopeful closer “Disappear”, which touches on well-being and mental health. Overall, I’ve got to give major props to Benjamin and Rob for this bold, creative release.
OddKidOut, ISABÈL USHER, “Sleep”
“Sleep” is an unconventional electronic release that sounds melancholic but is actually rather comforting, and thus it’s a bit more of a grower than usual. It’s by L.A.-based, Philadelphia-born producer OddKidOut with lyrics and vocals by Dutch singer Isabèl Usher. It’s a quick one at only 2:18, and OddKidOut says he made most of the track on a flight from Philly to L.A. on his laptop. It certainly has that DIY quality but the brief shifting in pace after the words are sung and the old school electronic sound are reminiscent of some releases from mid-last decade. So yeah, “Sleep” has this quirky, retro vibe on the top layer, and underneath is a warm and welcoming song.
XanTz, MAXXER, ROBBIE ROSEN, “Revived”
“Revived” is like a blueprint for everything that sounds good in a pop/dance banger that is elevated because of the songwriting and vocal. This is one of the highly prolific Robbie Rosen’s best recent releases, and this time he’s partnered with Norwegian producer XanTz and Detroit producer Maxxer, and together they all take this song to the next level. Be prepared to bounce to the euphoric synths, and Robbie’s anthemic lyrics are sure to inspire you.
BILL’S NEW MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK
My New Music Pick of the Week is a 5-7 minute radio segment that airs more than 20 times/week on online radio stations around the world.
The lost art of love through dance is represented by “La Danse” by Timmy Trumpet & Tungevaag
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Australian trio daste. with “butterfly (so free)”
HUNTER J. WILBUR’S BOP OF THE WEEK
Hunter J. Wilbur is the host of the online radio shows “Modern Hype” and “Addictive Energy” which can be heard on several online stations including Classic Hits Canada.
American duo and twin sisters Lavendine with “Finding My Way Home”
“THE MUSICMAN” JAMES ROGERS’ CLASSIC FIVE
“The Musicman” James Rogers is the owner and host of The 3D Variety Show heard Tuesdays on Planet Radio Canada. The Classic Five is “pop music 101” of the post-Beatles era – classics you need to know! Each title is linked to a Spotify stream of the song.
Zager & Evans – In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) (1969)
Bobby Goldsboro – Honey (1968)
Herb Alpert – This Guy’s In Love With You (1968)
Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Billie Joe (1967)
Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds (1969)
BILLCS Top 30 #1 SONG
“Golden Hour” by JVKE
BILLCS Top30 FASTEST RISER
“Hero” by Martin Garrix and JVKE (22-8)