The Grammy Awards – Good Show, Voting Process Needs a Redo
I didn’t see the entire show this past Sunday, but I did watch most of the Grammy Awards. It was an enjoyable show, and I am particularly fond of the performances by Steve Lacy – no wonder kids want to sound like him – and Mary J. Blige. And while the show does offer a bounty of entertainment, even if it’s not consistent, this is perhaps the only reason why the 15-30 age group might watch it.
The Grammys are an elite club. We get to see Taylor Swift, Adele, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z all get up and dance and party together all in one place, while occasionally picking up an award or two. Including super fans seemed like a good idea, until you start thinking about how they might have got there and who they knew, which made their segments less genuine.
If the Grammys want to appeal to a younger, astute group of music fans, then the Academy’s process for choosing for most of the award winners must simply change – not that the award winners aren’t deserving. But Samara Joy trumping Wet Leg, Anitta, and Maneskin? Bonnie Raitt triumphing over the biggest hit songs of the year? Brandi Carlile winning two Rock Grammys?
And don’t get me started about the Electronic Music categories…
In addition to the posts about individual songs, you can 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 transports us back to 1969/1970 this week with his Classic Five pop hits feature. My BILLCS Top 30 5-10-15-20… feature is back, looking at the songs that were in my chart’s Top 5 five, ten, fifteen and twenty years ago this week!
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.
FRANK WALKER, ELLA HENDERSON, “I Go Dancing”
Simply said, “I Go Dancing” could be one of the most surprising and biggest hits to come out of Canada this year, and it’s already in the Top 40 at both dance and Canadian pop radio. Frank Walker is a Toronto-based electronic dance producer who has been building his profile through club and festival gigs over the past several years, collaborating with producers such as Steve Aoki, R3HAB, and Loud Luxury (his track with them “Like Gold”, reached #1 on the BILLCS Top 30 two years ago) while also receiving a Juno nomination for his track “Only When It Rains” in 2020. This time he’s got an amazing Ella Henderson vocal that she can happily add on to her slew of recent dance hits like Nathan Dawe’s “21 Reasons” and “Heartstrings” with M-22. What makes “I Go Dancing” even better is its driven sentiment, about being alone unapologetically and having a good time at it too. Radio has it right this time – “I Go Dancing” is a winner.
A.J. SMITH, “Old Movies”
Nashville-based multi-talent A.J. Smith has been on a roll with releases as varied as the anthemic “We’re All Gonna Die” and his unique spin on a Christmas song called “Naughty”. And the variety continues with “Old Movies”, which throws an olive branch to people of my generation or older about the classic movie star ideal and all of the romanticism attached to it. The pace is deliberate, with an often sparse arrangement refreshed with some strings (or perhaps synthesized ones) that supports A.J.’s engaging vocal. This is the kind of smart, old school song that is currently appealing to the younger generations and is a perfect companion to recent hits like JVKE’s “Golden Hour” or Stephen Sanchez’s “Until I Found You”. “Old Movies” might just be my favourite release by A.J. thus far.
OSVALDO SUPINO, “Stuck on This Feeling”
Italy’s award-winning singer/songwriter Osvaldo Supino has released some fine songs over the years and offers a bit of a change up with “Stuck on This Feeling”. Osvaldo sings mainly in his higher register for this song and it works splendidly. Immersed in his charismatic personality, “Stuck” could comfortably sit alongside recent new music by Darren Hayes on a playlist. “Stuck on This Feeling” is well-written, reminiscent of classic 80’s pop, with careful, sometimes taut production by the singer. I’m definitely here for this era of Osvaldo!
MIKE ST. JULES, APOLLO NASH, “Digital Horizon”
Fans of classic trance will totally dig “Digital Horizon”, brought to you by Haitian-American NYC-based producer Mike St. Jules and New Jersey producer Apollo Nash through Enhanced Records. This brisk instrumental is tightly knit by the production team, and benefits from having a defined hook. There’s no doubt in my mind that it could be easily included by sync producers in a video game, movie, TV show or even a short film. Mike has recorded for Black Hole Recordings in the past, and has remixed artists like Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren, so naturally the quality in this recording is top level.
UNIVERSAL HONEY, “Time Blindness”
Toronto pop group Universal Honey was a regular on Canadian pop, alternative and college radio in the 90’s with songs like “Just Before Mary Goes” and “Upfront With You”, and also received praise for their cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Carey”. The duo of Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair (once members of The Pursuit of Happiness) returned to recording and a few years ago, and a new album is about to be released on Friday, February 10 called Dandelion. “Time Blindness” features sparkling production and an infectious hollow drum sound that is consistent in the song, backing a crisp vocal by Leslie. The fresh theme of “Time Blindness” is about the years all blurring together, looking at where you are today and realizing often how young you were in years past. The song is upbeat ear candy and a reminder to live for today.
RAGS AND RICHES, “Holiday”
If you like your alt.pop a little rough around the edges but with a catchy rhythm and singalong lyrics, then meet Kentucky duo Rags and Riches and their latest release “Holiday”. Rags and Riches comprises brothers Tanner and Peyton Whitt, and the song follows up their well-received album from last year called Always Gold. “Holiday” is a short but sweet taste of what the brothers have to offer, and if you like Glass Animals or The Driver Era, then “Holiday” would fit well in your playlists. While I think their songwriting may need a bit more polish yet, Rags and Riches clearly have the goods to make quality music for a wider audience.
ALICE PISANO, “Where My Heart Is” (acoustic)
I’ve written several times about Italy-born, London-based pop singer/songwriter Alice Pisano, another rising indie talent who understands about not sticking to a comfort zone, which allows her songs to be intentional in a variety of arrangements. Her last two singles, “Ink” and “Boys Like You” have been more on the bubbly and fun side, even if sometimes the music masks lyrics of heartbreak. “Where My Heart Is”, in its acoustic piano version from her new EP Shattered But Still Cool, lays her vulnerability on display and shows off how good her voice is. In fact, this version of the song is much preferred to the produced version also on the EP because it simply suits the song better. Thoroughly enjoyable, you’ll be completely immersed in “Where My Heart Is” (acoustic) for its 3+ minutes.
D’AMICO & VALAX, MELODY MANE, “Shine”
Italian dance producers D’Amico & Valax keep the energy going in their releases with “Shine” which features vocals by Melody Mane, a singer/songwriter who has also covered songs like September’s “Cry for You” and 4 Strings’ “Take Me Away (Into The Night)”. “Shine” is a fast-paced, timeless tech house track full of confidence and bounce, and tailor-made for the dance floor. The song has a big moment when Melody’s voice really soars, and club DJ’s should have no trouble including it in a tightly-wound set that will help keep club-goers grooving.
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.
Waiting For Smith’s thought-provoking “Heal”
“BIG DADDY” RUSS HORTON’S PICK OF THE WEEK
“Big Daddy” Russ Horton is the owner of online stations Radio GTA, Halton Hills Radio Online, & FM108.ca.
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, the Journey hit covered by Daughtry and Lzzy Hale
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.
Former “American Idol” contestant Madison Watkins with “Electric”
“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.
Spiral Starecase – More Today Than Yesterday
Fifth Dimension – Wedding Bell Blues
Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
Bread – Make It With You
Shocking Blue – Venus
THE BILLCS TOP 30 – 5-10-15-20…
The Top 5 songs from the BILLCS Top 30 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago…
- Pineapple Skies – Miguel
- My My My! – Troye Sivan
- Body – Loud Luxury featuring brando
- Evergreen – YEBBA
- Small Talk – GIIANTS
- 1998 – Matthew Koma
- The City – River Tiber
- Time Bomb (Walk Away) – Chris Wallace
- Parachute – Matthew Koma
- Clarity – Zedd featuring Foxes
- How To Build A Time Machine – Darren Hayes
- Chasing Pavements – Adele
- Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
- Calabria – Enur featuring Natasja
- Best Days – Matt White
- The Sound of Violence – Cassius featuring Steve Edwards
- Serve The Ego (Gabriel & Dresden remix) – Jewel
- James Dean (I Wanna Know) – Daniel Bedingfield
- Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
- Two Months Off – Underworld