5 Days to Halloween: Music Mayhem Top Ten Videos

Hi everyone! Who doesn’t like music? I can’t live without it, from cleaning my room to working out to driving in the car, there’s a song for every occasion! And Halloween’s no different. I’ve put together a list of Halloween-themed (i.e., scary-themed) music videos and ranked them from lighthearted and fun to downright frightful. Enjoy!

‘Til next time!

p.s. The #1 video has been hailed by many sites as totally disturbing, so to be honest, I did not view it because I do not like to be frightened.

10. “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett

9. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.

8. “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo

7. “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo

6. “Paranoimia” by Art of Noise

5. “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana

4. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson

3. “Sober” by Tool

3. “Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson

2. “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (you will need to confirm your age in order to view the video)

1. “Come to Daddy” by Aphex Twin

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8 Days to Halloween – Your Soundtrack

Hello Everyone! Today’s topic is music. Creepy music, that is. Soundtracks are such an important part of a movie (or TV show), and I’m always in awe at the creativity that comes from a composer’s mind. This is a little nod to all of them.

Oh, and I dare you to listen to these in the dark and by yourself with just your imagination. And maybe a candle.

Enjoy! ‘Till next time.

1. I’m to understand that Dario Argentos is a true horror movie’s fan favorite director, or, at least, one of. I will never see any of his movies, because I do not have the stomach for it, so I have to go by the experts; i.e, the fans. There’s a lot of praise for his movie “Suspiria” and here’s one of the songs titled “Sighs” from the movie written by Goblin.

2. Here’s for a very different kind of ambient music, something you won’t find at an office. Maybe. Lustmord’s “Zoetrope.”

3. I’ve seen the movie “The Shining,” and I know a lot of people love it, but it’s just so creepy to me. I found it difficult to ride elevators for a while after seeing it. But I love the fact that a woman composed its theme song. Here’s Wendy Carlos’ theme for “The Shining.”

4. You would think a “boogie” would be fun and light-hearted. Not if David Lynch and Alan R. Splet have a say. Here’s “Pete’s Boogie” from the movie “Eraserhead.”

5. Can’t leave out some classical music. Camille Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre.” This doesn’t necessarily invoke evil, terror or horror, but there is an element of sinister in between the notes. Or so I hear.

…And because Halloween isn’t Halloween without the stereotypical sounds most of us know of and some of us run from, here’s a few “standard” horror movies and their songs that give me the shudders just thinking about…

1. “Halloween,” Michael Meyers Theme Song

2. “Friday the 13th” theme song

3. I had a friend who loved the movie “Pi” a lot. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and never saw it, but I feel this song from it matches the mood of today’s blog.

A very special Thank you to Dan Jacobson for his help.

A Beautiful Girl Screams I Will Always Love You

The ’80s! If, like me, you grew up in this decade, you know how exciting it was. The colors, the hair, the fashion, but most notably, the music. There were many artists to choose from, as always, but I picked the three most iconic ones. According to me.

1. Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Born Michael Joseph Jackson in Gary, IN on August 29, 1959, Jackson was the eighth child of the Jackson family and debuted his professional music career at the age of five and his solo career at the age of twelve in 1971. His music videos, particularly “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller” broke all kinds of racial barriers as well as turning a music video into a medium of art and as a marketing tool. These videos and their popularity put a new TV station called MTV on the map. He continued to break ground throughout the 1990s becoming one of the biggest, if not biggest, solo performer to tour worldwide. He also popularized a number of difficult dance moves including the moonwalk, which he named. Despite his tremendous amounts of success and fame, his personal life was tumultuous, often stirring controversy from several child molestation accusations to two failed marriages to becoming a father to three children without the public really knowing the details of how they were conceived (with medical intervention or natural). Jackson was in the midst of planning his comeback tour, This Is It, when he died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest. His personal physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Almost five years later, many still mourn his death. (For more, please visit here.)

Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking “Thriller”:

Michael Jackson’s innovative video “Scream”:

2. Prince (1958- )

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis, MN where he developed an interest in music at an early age, and was seven years-old when he wrote his first song. At 17, he recorded several demo tapes that proved to be unsuccessful; however, he persisted. His 1979 album, Prince, went platinum. His next three records, Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982) continued to push him up the success ladder. These albums showcased his trademark of prominently sexual lyrics and setting them to elements of funk, dance and rock music. In a dispute with his record label in the early 1990s, he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol known as “The Love Symbol” only to start referring to himself as Prince again in 2000. He is known for his wide vocal range, as well as his flamboyant stage presence and costumes. (For more, please visit here.)

There wasn’t too much to choose from for Prince; I couldn’t find any video on youtube from his early days. But here’s live footage of him and Sheila E. who is one of his proteges:

Here is Prince singing “The Most Beautiful Girl”:

3. Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

Oh, Whitney, Whitney, Houston…how I love thee! She was born Whitney Elizabeth Houston on August 9, 1963 in Newark, NJ. When she was four, her family moved to East Orange, NJ where she began to sing in the church choir and learn how to play the piano. In 1983, she made her national debut on TV on the Merv Griffin Show. In February 1985, Houston debuted her first album Whitney Houston to great critical acclaim. By 1986, the album turned out hit after hit making it the best-selling debut album by a solo artist at the time. Like Michael Jackson, she also influenced MTV’s programming, breaking barriers for black women musicians, as it began to feature artists such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker in addition to her. In 1989, she met Bobby Brown at the Soul Train Music Awards and after three years of dating, they married. In 1993, she gave birth to her first, and only, child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. Unfortunately, her drug use created a lot of personal drama and she somewhat dropped out of the spotlight until 2006 when she returned to music, although the glamour wasn’t the same. On February 11, 2012, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, amidst the Grammy Awards’ festivities, she was found unconscious, submerged in a bathtub in her hotel room. Her death was ruled “accidental drowning,” and, as with Michael Jackson, many fans still mourn her death. (For more, please visit here.)

Here is Whitney Houston’s video for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” which helped break ground for black female musicians on MTV:

Here is Whitney singing “One Moment in Time” from the 1989 Grammy Awards. The song was used in the 1988 Olympics, I believe.

And here is Whitney singing what, I think most people would call, her signature song, “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack:

What’s the Experience of Wasted Time on a Mountain Got to Do With It?

So today I’m going to ignore the standard “3” rule and will be talking about 4 musicians, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Again, as in yesterday’s post, there’s no real rhyme or reason why I picked the following, I just did. Although maybe it had something to do with me personally really liking these particular musicians. I’m just saying…

1. Otis Redding (1941-1969)

Born on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, GA, Otis Redding, Jr. began his career as a singer and musican at an early age by singing in the choir at his family’s Church. While in high school, he competed in the Douglass Theatre talent shows and, after winning 15 times straight, he wasn’t allowed to compete anymore. In 1960, Otis joined Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers and it was at a recording session in October 1962 at Stax Record where Stax co-owner, Jim Stewart, allowed Redding to cut some songs with the remaining studio time. The song “These Arms of Mine” came from that session and became the first of many hit singles to come. In the summer of 1967, listening to a lot of The Beatles during the week he was up in San Francisco performing at the San Francisco Fillmore West Theater, Redding wrote “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” This would become his biggest worldwide hit and signature song. Another significant contribution he made to the industry is that during a time where this would probably be considered to be politically incorrect, Redding had a white manager, Phil Walden, and a racially mixed band. He also set up his own publishing and record label, Jotis Records, in 1965, a business move that broke ground for black musicians. His career was short-lived, however. On December 10, 1967, while flying in his private plane with fellow bandmates, it crashed into Lake Monona in Madison Wisconsin and died. (For more, please visit here.)

Here is a live performance of Redding in 1967 singing “Try a Little Tenderness” one day before his plane crashed:

And here is Redding singing his signature song:

2. Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, WA and was given the nickname “Young Jimmy” at an early age; his father was named James “Al” Hendrix. Al quickly noticed Jimmy’s interest in guitar and found ways to nurture that interest starting with a ukulele given to him when Al noticed he was strumming a broom like he was playing a guitar. In 1961, Jimmy enlisted in the US Army but was eventually discharged after an injury during a parachute jump. Upon leaving the Army, he became a session guitarist under the name Jimmy James and quickly began making a name for himself. By 1966, he found himself in London with Animals’ bassist, Chas Chandler, who became Jimmy’s manager. He had Jimmy change his name to “Jimi” and they brought on Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding to form Jimi Hendrix Experience. In the fall of 1966, they had become the talk of the town. Jimi’s career began to grow exponentially in London but it wasn’t until he returned to the US and playing Woodstock in August 1969 did his fame skyrocket. The fame, however, wouldn’t last for long. The details of his death are somewhat sketchy but the coroner concluded the Hendrix aspirated on his own vomit and died of asphyxia while intoxicated with barbiturates. His date of death is September 18, 1970 in London. He is buried in Renton, Washington. (For more, please visit here and here.)

Here is Hendrix, live at Woodstock 1969:

3. Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)

Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. on April 2, 1939. He began to sing in his family’s church accompanied by his father on the piano. When he sang in a school play, he was encouraged to pursue a music career, although not much of his home life encouraged such a path. His father often brutally whipped Marvin for what he perceived to be any shortcomings that Marvin might have. His sister would later confirm that Marvin was beaten often from seven years old into his teenage years. Marvin credits his mother’s support for saving him and encouraging him to pursue music because, without that support, he has said that he would have otherwise committed suicide as a child. He was often taunted for his last name and eventually changed the spelling and added an “e” at the end. He wanted to silence questions surrounding his sexuality and also further distance himself from his father. He released his first single in 1961, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” and it was a flop followed by more flops. In 1962, he found success as co-writer of the Marvelettes hit “Beechwood 4-5789” and his first solo hit “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” was released later that same year reaching number 8 on the R&B chart and number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. While he initially sought out to become a jazz artist, R&B seemed to come naturally to him and where he reached success going on to partner with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell with whom he developed a close friendship. He is credited as having significant influence in shaping the sound of Motown Records in the 1960s and turned out hit after hit throughout the 1970s. On April 1, 1984, while talking to his mother, Gaye’s father shot Marvin fatally with the same gun given to him for Christmas by Marvin. He would have turned 45 the next day. (For more, please read here.)

Here is Marvin Gaye singing “Heard It Through the Grapevine” live:

Here is Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” live on the Johnny Carson show in the 1960s:

4. Tina Turner (1939- )

Born as Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, TN, Tina began her career singing in the church choir. She began her musical career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. In 1960, she was introduced as Tina Turner and a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. The duo was very successful; however, according to Tina, it was at a high cost and she later revealed that Ike was abusive toward her. They split in 1976 and divorced in 1978. Initially, her solo career didn’t take off, but in 1983, she launched a string of hits followed by the release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer which would become a worldwide success. She is considered to be one of the world’s most popular entertainers and is also called The Queen of Rock n Roll. She earned the credit for most successful female rock artist, winning eight Grammys and selling more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history. She currently resides in Switzerland where she is also its citizen. (For more, please visit here.)

Tina Turner and Ike Turner sing “Rolling on the River (Proud Mary)” in 1971:

And Tina’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” live:

A Dancing Josephine and King’s Guitar Have Simone Feeling Good

I didn’t realize how tough this would be. There are so many talented musicians out there, all of whom had an impact on the music industry and world at large but I, obviously, can’t include all of them in my blog. If there were a “not like” button for that, I’d certainly press it!

So what I did was just, somewhat randomly, pick the musicians. There’s no order, or rhyme or real reason, although, I did want to focus on women.

Today I will focus on the first half of the 20th Century and, as the week goes on, will take us through the decades.

1. Josephine Baker (1906-1975)

Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, MO on June 3, 1906, her father, a vaudeville drummer, abandoned her and her washerwoman mother, Carrie McDonald. Her mother remarried and three more children followed. As a teenager, Josephine toured the US as a comedic performer, gaining success in and recognition with her performances, but it wasn’t until later when she traveled to Paris where she catapulted to fame. With her dance partner, Joe Alex, she danced a new and exotic routine while wearing only a feather skirt. While she thrived in Paris, the US, with rampant racism, was unkind to her. Her brief return in 1936 to star in Ziegfield Follies was disastrous because American audiences couldn’t accept a black woman with so much power. She returned to Paris. In 1975, on April 8, Josephine premiered at the Bobino Theater in Paris and her reviews were some of the best she had ever had; however, days later she slipped into a coma and died from a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12. More than 20,000 people crowded the streets of Paris to watch her funeral procession. She is buried in Monaco. (For more please visit here.)

Here is footage from 1927 of her dancing, and while the music isn’t original, it’s her dancing talents that you want to look at. Incredible that these moves were once considered “scandalous.” Compared to today’s “twerking…”

And here’s one of Josephine Baker’s last performances, 1974, London:

2. B.B. King (1925- )

Born as Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 on a cotton plantation near Berclair, MI, King was raised by his maternal grandmother. He started playing the guitar by the age of 12 and by 1949 began recording songs. Later that year, King played a dance hall in Twist, AR where, during a performance, two men began to fight knocking over a barrel with kerosene igniting the hall. Once evacuated, King remembered he left his beloved guitar, a Gibson hollow electric, inside. He ran into the burning building to rescue it. King learned the next day that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named his beloved Gibson Lucille and continued to name each subsequent guitar that to serve as a reminder to never again run into a burning building or fight over a woman. In the 1950s, he became one of the most important names in R&B turning out hit record after hit record. At 88, King remains busy performing and collaborating with other artists on projects. (For more, please visit here.)

Live in 2001, B.B. King, his guitar and music:

3. Nina Simone (1933-2003)

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina on February 21, 1933, she began playing the piano by ear when she was three years old. In 1954, looking to supplement her income, she auditioned to sing at the Midtown Barn & Grill in Atlantic City, NJ where immediately word spread about her talents. A couple of years later, she came to the attention of the record industry and it was her reading of “Porgy” (from “Porgy & Bess”) that established her on the national level. She passed away in her sleep on April 21, 2003 in France leaving behind a wonderful and beautiful legacy. (For more, please visit here.)

Live in London, 1968, Nina Simone singing “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life”:

And here is one of Nina Simone’s most famous recordings “Feeling Good” (1965) with a montage of pictures of her:

“The Entertainer”

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To continue honoring African Americans for Black History Month, I will take this week to focus on music and musicians. Today’s Person of the Day is none other but Scott Joplin who so greatly influenced America’s musical landscape with the ragtime genre. I’m fascinated by people who view the world through musical notes. How beautiful the world’s landscape must look to them…

Joplin was born some time in the late 1860s near the border of Texas and Arkansas. He was born into a musical family and early on showed great talent for the piano. As a teen, he became a traveling musician and eventually settled in Sedalia, Missouri where he studied music during the 1890s at Sedalia’s George R. Smith College for Negroes. His composition “The Maple Leaf Rag” would become the biggest ragtime song ever. His other well-known piece was “The Entertainer” which would catapult him back to fame in the 1970s when Robert Redford and Paul Newman starred in the movie The Sting and the song became its theme.

By 1907, Joplin settled in New York to produce his opera Treemonisha, a precursor to George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. It was staged in 1915 as a scaled-down production, and although it’d take a while, it eventually became a full-staged production.

In 1913 Joplin formed a publishing company with his third wife; however, by 1916 he started to suffer from the side effects of syphilis becoming hospitalized and institutionalized as a result. He died on April 1, 1917. In 1976, Joplin received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Treemonisha.

Here is audio of what is apparently Scott Joplin himself playing “The Maple Leaf Rag.” Though, if you read the comments, there’s some dispute about whether or not it’s really him and that the recording is most likely a piano roll which sped up songs.

Here is audio of “The Entertainer” on a piano roll.

Biographical information gathered from here.

Grammy Fashions

I always thought one could count on the music industry’s talent to bring forth the edgier side of fashion but this year proved me wrong. Some are saying the Grammys were somewhat boring, as far as fashion is concerned, and, I think, I might agree. I have only a few that I liked and the others are only OK. I’ve included a “I’m Confused” category for those fashions that are, well, confusing. To me, at least.

For the slideshow’s entirety, please visit here.

‘Till next time!

My Favorites Category

1. Queen Latifah’s dress is nice, simple, and elegant. She’s such a classy lady!

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2. Sarah Hyland – She’s an actress but she made my cut. While some fashion experts didn’t like her dress, I thought it looked great on her. Spunky and cute, just like her.

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3. My third favorite was the duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. A very chic look for the newcomers.

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4. Taylor Swift’s dress was beautiful. I read she said it felt like wearing armor, but you couldn’t tell. It laid on her so elegantly.

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5. Rita Ora’s dress is so shiny, I loooove it! And I wish my hair could get so wavy.

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The “OK” Category

1. Beyonce’s dress is only OK because while I think it’s daring, I don’t think it’s very flattering. The bottom of the dress reminds me of the bottom of a cake or my mother’s curtains. I would be so scared to wear something like this.

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2. Gloria Estefan’s dress is a nice, bright red; however, the top of the dress reminds me of blood. And that makes me a little uncomfortable.

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3. The dress on Alicia Keys is a pretty blue but I have to agree with some other fashion critics, it’s a little boring. Oh, and the cleavage…so daring.

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4. I want to like Colbie Caillat’s dress but that partition in the middle is a little distracting, I think. And distracting because it doesn’t look quite finished. Dare I say, there should be more drama to the dress…?

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5. Madonna, Madonna…my childhood is filled with her memories, especially having to secretly listen to her music as my mother would never approve of her. She is so bold and gutsy…but I feel this look is just too “been there, done that” for her.

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“I’m Confused” Category

1. Katy Perry’s dress: I’m Confused.

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2. Daft Punk: I’m Confused.

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3. Cyndi Lauper: I’m Confused.

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4. Sara Bareilles: I’m Confused.

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5. Zendaya: I’m Confused.

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