Liberty Mutual Insurance Needs to Go Ahead and Drop That Mixtape

Has anybody else noticed how good the music in the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials is? Besides these commercials having a great message (be responsible, let’s all look out for each other), they jam. I don’t know if it’s just some great ad agency out there who should simultaneously be applauded for bringing us beautiful art and despised for reducing it to a tool to sell us insurance, or some summer intern in a basement cubicle who would much rather be working in a record store, but who ever is making these music choices is doing good work.

Most recently, Liberty Mutual has a commercial that features humans being humans and making mistakes like humans do. Fittingly, the song they chose was “Human” by the band The Human League. Full disclosure: I love New Wave, period, so they could have picked most any New Wave track and I would have put it on this list.  If they were talking about life insurance, Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” would be perfect, for example. And you can play A Flock of Seagulls or Spandau Ballet at anytime apropos of nothing, because those bands will always be apropos of everything. Clearly, I am not the most unbiased observer here. Continue reading

The Soulful White Guy Tour Would Undoubtedly Be One of the Greatest Concerts of All Time

I like Hall and Oates off GP, but recently I decided to play their music  because I saw this guy in a Hall and Oates costume:


And I suddenly realized that I really wanted Hall and Oates to go on tour. I mean–really wanted them to go on tour, right now. Not just because they have great songs, but they sound fantastic live. For the longest time, I thought “Sara Smile” was done by a Black guy, mainly because it’s on Black radio stations all the time. But then I heard this:

And these guys killed it. And then I thought about all the other White bands–blue eyed soul, if you will–who get airplay on predominantly R&B stations. And I also thought about guys who get sampled by really soulful hip hop music. The output of all that rumination is the Soulful White Guy Tour. Now, you might notice that John Mayer is conspicuously missing (or inconspicuously, if you’ve never seen him live. Mayer’s down like four flat tires.) But I really am looking at guys who legitimately can come on the radio after Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, Babyface, R. Kelly’s “Can’t Sleep” or “Down Low”, or Tevin Cambell’s “Can We Talk” and fit right in. Also, I’m only including guys whose music is forward looking–meaning that it stands on its own, and rather than paying homage to a culture, it’s part of the culture. That means no Mayer Hawthorne. You’re cool, and I like your music Mayer Hawthorne, but I’m sorry.  (For what it’s worth, I think Mayer maybe can be on the tour one day soon. I don’t know. You be the judge.) In addition to the awesome Hall and Oates, the other acts include: Continue reading

Don’t Trust Them New Singers Over There: Luther Vandross, JoDeCi, and Whitney Houston Will Take Your Song And Never Give It Back

“Superstar” by The Carpenters is a very good song that doesn’t get the love it deserves. This is not at all the fault of The Carpenters. They need to blame Luther Vandross. As it turns out, while “Superstar” by The Carpenters is a very good song, “Superstar” by Luther Vandross is a great song.  Luther is one of the greatest vocalists in the history of popular music; of this fact there can be no debate. There are things on which you and I can have differences of opinion, but on this there can be no doubt for it is a simple statement of fact. Below is Luther at his best: when he was Big Luther, sweating and sparkling. (Little Luther was still great but…I’ll have to explain the difference for the uninitiated another day. But by being Big Luther, the man who is the namesake and possible inventor of the Luther Burger, he gave of himself, paying the ultimate sacrifice for his art. R.I.P., Luther.)

Occasionally, you’ll see two divas on stage and they start trying to out-diva each other–like Mariah and Aretha that one time singing “Chain of Fools” on VH1 Divas or Whitney vs. Mariah on Oprah that time. There was Aretha versus the world, in which she engages in a show of power against the incomparable Carole King, the mighty Céline Dion; the incredible Gloria Estefan; the still-underrated Shania Twain; and one of the few people who could ever really challenge her face to face in Mariah Carey (the other is Whitney). In these diva battles there’s finger pointing and handwaving and vocal runs, and the divas start looking at each other instead of the crowd. When it gets really serious there’s a faceoff and they forget that the rest of us are even in the room. It’s really the feminine counterpart to rap battles. But when it comes to singing, men don’t really have these showdowns. So I wonder: is there any man who really could have given Luther any trouble whatsoever in a divo showdown? Who can you see on stage really going toe-to-toe with Luther? Some people have the voice, but not the soul. The presence, but not the power. The power, but not the control. Luther’s voice was cognac-infused butter, sprinkled with sugar and carmelized slowly over a flame. As a rule, if you want to keep your song yours, you better not leave it alone with Luther. He will make your song fall in love and run off with him, and everybody will forget that it was even yours to begin with.  He is the Angelina Jolie of R&B. I say this because “Superstar” is not the only song he’s stolen this way. Continue reading

Is Anybody Really Still Waiting For Detox?

Every now and then, you’ll hear from someone who’s been in the studio with Dr. Dre who claims to have heard parts of Detox. Invariably, they tell you two things: 1) that it’s brilliant, perfect, and amazing in every way and 2) that Dr. Dre is a perfectionist who won’t let it go. That used to be pretty interesting stuff, but now I wonder, does anyone really care? Continue reading

How Did Drake End Up Being So Far Gone?

Much of the criticism of Canadian singer/actor/rapper Drake has centered around his image–he’s alternatively been Wheelchair Jimmy from Degrassi; softer than cottonballs and baby thighs; a Canadian rapper wannabe who has the unfortunate habit of adding “AWWWWW” to the end of every stanza. I’m low-key thankful for this; without it we wouldn’t have the truly hilarious Big Ghost Chronicles review of Drake’s Take Care album, or, for that matter, Big Ghost’s truly hilarious review of Drake’s life. I have cried real tears of laughter at Big Ghost’s apt descriptions of Drake as a “human croissant”, or the only person in the world capable of turning sandpaper into moist towelettes, or Young Garnier Fructis aka The Kitten Whisperer aka the dude who holds down the top three spots of the softest rapper top ten lists. Big Ghost Chronicles isn’t unique in its antagonism of Drake (although it’s gotta be the best). Other people have gone in on him, from comments sections on hip hop sites to Common with his diss verse on the “Stay Schemin” Remix.  But while these characterizations might be deserved due to his own actions, they are unfortunate. That’s because Drake had, and may still have, the potential to actually be one of the greatest rappers of his generation. I already know how that probably sounds. Continue reading