Justin, Nicki, Whitney — Wow, What a Medley!

Rihanna Ashton Kutcher DatingHi Everyone,

Our Monday Medley had to take a back seat because of the weekend’s Country Music Awards and Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards so let’s do our bits-and-pieces medley today.

You must have heard about Rihanna’s latest gossip-of-the-moment: her, er, developing ‘friendship’ with Demi Moore’s ex, Ashton Kutcher.  Well, Rihanna’s ex, Chris Brown has gone one better, and done it musically.  Brown has really come back from the wilderness as his single ‘Turn up the Music’ has debuted on the U.K. singles chart at no. 1!  The pressure’s all on Ashton now to match that.  Come on Ash, impress your new girl!

Two singers are so hot these days that they just can’t seem to keep out of the news.  They’re Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber.  Nicki because she’s an MTV favourite and Justin because he’s a fan favourite!  And how: the lead single, ‘Boyfriend’, from his upcoming album ‘Believe’, has notched over half-a-million downloads in its first week.  (You’re one of those half-million, aren’t you?!)  This stat puts it in second place for most downloads of a single in its first week of release.

Nicki is just so up and about that she keeps making the news.  Today is the official launch of her new album ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’.  Her video for ‘Beez in the Trap’ is also geared for release today, so Nicki’s trying to go two for two.  What’s more, it comes in two versions: one clean-cut, the other one X-rated.  Which one do you want to see, kids?

Last week I expressed my admiration of Les Paul when I blogged about the scheduled auction of his treasures (a few of which changed the course of recorded music).  This weekend some of Whitney Houston’s effects went under the hammer, courtesy of the same auctioneer who will do the Les Paul auction: Julien’s Auctions.  Those of Whitney’s fans who are wealthy enough snapped up Houston’s gowns and dresses.  However, it was two or three items from her role in ‘The Bodyguard’ that were sold for eyecatching figures, none more so than two pair of earrings (i.e. four total) which went for nearly $10,000!  That demonstrates real star power.

Cheerio,

Shane

Whitney, R.I.P.

Howdy,

Well, it’s another tortoise of a news day in MusicLand.  Much of it’s still about Whitney but then, she was a superstar.  So a few more words about her to close out the week.

Thinking about it, I wonder if two decades hence music historians won’t credit Whitney Houston for being a pioneer who pulled down the shutters on one era and kick-started another?  Disco queens were dying and dead by the early 80s and Agnetha and Anni-Frid (of ABBA) were on the way out when Whitney charmed the life out of us, and ushered in the age of the big-voiced, soul-inflected, love-song pop singer.  It’s not just Jennifer Hudson but, I verily believe, a good many others who have been influenced by ‘That Whitney Style.’

If you categorize modern singers by kind or type, then, whatever category you put Whitney in, you’ll find that she is the ‘firstborn’ in that category.  Music scholars and historians, your move.

Whitney Houston’s last farewell is tomorrow when she will be put to rest in Newark, New Jersey.  We know that Aretha Franklin’s her godmother and Dionne Warwick’s her cousin and they will – of course – be in attendance.  But Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Beyonce, Kevin Costner, and Bill Cosby (besides mogul Clive Davis) are expected to be present too.  That shows the esteem even her talented colleagues held Whitney in.

(Remind me someday to tell you about the afternoon Dionne Warwick ‘just walked on by’ when I was standing by the gate to Frank Sinatra’s Beverly Hills home on Foothill Road the day after his passing.)

Looking ahead to next week, Britney, Gaga, and Madamadonna, where are you? We need your antics to fill these blog posts! Puh-leez run out to your car in your undies (or knickers, as we call ‘em back in jolly old England), say something wacko or otherwise spice things up.  Else I’ll have to take the time and trouble to write something meaningful about real singers like Laura Fygi or Meredith Ambrosio.  So if you crazy gals wanna get on my blog, do something!

In Memoriam,

Shane

Whitney, Our Tragic Valentine

Hello Music-Lovers,

Twenty-four hours ago I submitted my first post for our up-and-coming news section of the website.  In it, I was breezy and a little flippant, thinking I’d be at least as breezy and flippant in my next post.  It turns out that I’ll only be sedate and sombre: for I just found out that Whitney Houston has passed away.

Whitney burst into us music-lovers’ attentions as a very young, inexperienced woman; perhaps even more inexperienced and less coached than some of the well-coached no-talents we see on American Idol and the like.  But she hadn’t needed experience or coaching, though, because she had the goods: a rich yet delightfully feminine voice that eventually spanned a zillion octaves and an innate sense of melody and rhythm.

Whitney broke out a lifetime ago with Saving all my Love for You, that lovely love-song that was a slow-dance favourite.  Though already a big selling artiste, she really hit big time some years later with her pyrotechnic scorcher, I Will Always Love You.  Seldom does one hear an artiste in her prime flex her vocal muscles and incredible range in so tasteful and musical a fashion; so meaningful a fashion.

Whitney Houston had become a household name before the hit-making likes of Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey had broken out.  She was very much the ‘nice girl’ who used to be associated with clean living.  But after her unpopular marriage to Bobby Brown, her life went a little (a lot?) off-kilter.  Unknown elements like booze, drugs and violence entered her life, and the sensitive, clean-living woman probably just didn’t have the gritty, hardscrabble core to deal with all that trash.  Near the end Whitney could barely belt out half-a-dozen songs in a concert before losing her breath and timing.

There’s nothing to do now but reminisce, listen to the music, and say: We will Always Love You.

In Memoriam to Whitney, our Tragic Valentine,

Shane