Rant and rave: Songs we should not have been singing as children

Did you know
there are over 6,500 distinct languages in the modern world? B
eing the articulate wordsmiths that we are, it kinda blows our
mind when we think about how many other humans there are that we simply
can’t communicate with. That’s why we love music, the universal
language. If there is anything that makes sense to everyone, it’s a phat beat.
No matter where or how old you are, ain’t no other experience in the world as
simultaneously personal and unifying than appreciating a piece of music and
that’s great, right? Let’s all just spend a couple minutes looking at babies dancing. Okay. What could possibly be wrong with this? OH YEAH, LIKE 85% OF
POPULAR MUSIC IS ABOUT SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Suddenly by accident, we’ve got all
this innuendo spilling from the mouths of babes! Think we’re exaggerating? Take
a walk with us, through dance parties of yore. Revisiting the lyrics of some of
these teeny bopper tunes, we’re no longer surprised our moms went grey early.


O-Town – Liquid
Dreams

Hooo boy, did
we ever love watching this boy band come to life on Making the Band every Friday on ABC (and again two months ago when
we realized all the episodes are on YouTube). The emotional turmoil of a bunch
of adult dudes living in a house together just trying to make it as popstars,
the beginning of reality television as we know it, Jacob Underwood’s facial hair/attempt at white-guy dreadlocks – truly revolutionary stuff. So when they
came out with their first official single as a fully formed band about their
DREAM GIRL, we were so excited to sing along that we didn’t really even stop to
think. Liquid Dreams? What the what?! The song lists all of the boys’ fave
celebs and their body parts and mashes them all together to make one super babe
(although it’s not all superficial, they do mention they want her to have a
good personality-like Halle B,), who stars in their liquid dreams. That’s just gross, you
guys.  

B4-4 – Get Down

In this
little ditty, a pair of male twins and a guy named Ohad came together to fill
our adolescent minds with promises of being the ones to love and comfort us
until the day we die. It’s a happy-go-lucky tune with such a cool built-in
dance routine that we probably didn’t notice sideways looks from our parents
when we were belting out “I’m gonna make
you come tonight
over to my
house”.
We’re all adults here (now), and we realize that this little “game
of give and take” is just really creative propaganda for oral sex. We’d also
like to note that twins Ryan and Dan are now billed as pop/classical/opera
vocal duo RyanDan and are performing in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace with Shania Twain for the next two years.

Spice Girls –
2 Become 1

Luckily
everyone under the age of 14 skips all the slow jams, so this song about
revisiting a former lover more or less went under the radar [Ed. note: speak for yourself! Some of us loved this song when it came out]. Now if we just put
this in text form at 2 a.m., it would make a pretty impressive drunk booty
call. Although we don’t agree with pre-teens asking “are you as good as I remember, baby? Get it on, get it on” we
gotta give props for also alluding to the importance of safe sex “be a little bit wiser baby. Put it on. Put
it on.”
Well done, ladies. Unrelated note – if anyone knows the story with
the hologram deer at the end of the video, we’d love to know what that was all
about.

Next – Too
Close

An elementary
school dance staple, this touching duet between a man and a woman discusses the
intimacy of young love and relationships moving too fast. Just kidding, it’s
about boners.  Poor mid-pubescent boys going
through the terrible NRB phase probably really related to this grinding anthem (“Girl I know you felt it, but oh ya know I
can’t help it”)
while being misled by girls who had no idea what this song
was actually about.

Salt n Pepa –
Push It

This song isn’t about dancing.


*This post is titled Rant and Rave, because we can’t quite decide whether it really was a good or a bad thing that we were singing these songs as pre-pubescent teens.








Rave: holiday playlist

Despite your stance on how early holiday music should be played in public (read various pieces about that here and here), you can’t deny that less than 1 week out, it’s now time. We’ve pulled together a not-so-obvious holiday playlist for your enjoyment. It includes some classics, some rare tracks, and healthy dose of Canadian musicians and some songs that you just gotta love despite the cheesiness. We’ll be playing this all day long on the fourth floor.

And for an added bonus: one of the best collaborations ever.

Enjoy!

Rave: The Big Band Show

As we’re on the cusp of the holiday month, prepare yourself to be bombarded with Christmas carols, candy cane-flavoured everything and Santa Clauses at every turn. If you’re like us, it’s likely one of your favourite holiday traditions is The Nutcracker ballet. The National Ballet has you covered on that front, with their annual production running from December 19 to January 5. However, if you’re looking to get into the festive spirit a bit sooner, then we’ve got the show for you!

Mr. Andrew Burashko

Art of Time Ensemble is one of Canada’s most innovative and artistically accomplished music ensembles, led by the inimitable Andrew Burashko. Their latest show is The Big Band Show, which features a 25-piece (you guessed it) big band on-stage. Classically-trained musicians are joined on-stage by some of Canada’s most renown jazz giants, to share the power and beauty of big band sound with audiences. 

There aren’t any tights on the Art of Time stage.



Now, you’re probably asking yourself “what the heck does that have to do with The Nutcracker, goddammit?!”. Well, we’re glad you asked. As you may know, The Nutcracker ballet is set to music by Tchaikovsky. What you probably do not know is that jazz great Duke Ellington re-imagined the classic score through the prism of jazz. Pretty cool, eh? Transforming the romantic orchestral composition into jumping jazz melodies is quite the feat, but not for Ellington! The cool cat takes the gorgeous classic and turns it on its head, resulting in the hip Nutcracker Suite

Duke tickling the ivories.



The Nutcracker Suite is the jewel of the program, which also includes Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto and Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 1. All three pieces are very rarely performed and, to our knowledge, have never been performed together. The Big Band Show plays tribute to both classical and jazz music, and the relationship between the two genres.

Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the greatest classical composers of 20th century.



The show opens on November 30 and runs until December 1. It’s a short run (only two performances), which makes it even more special. Some people buy limited edition purses, but how many people have seen limited edition big band shows? Not many, that’s for sure. Grab some hot chocolate, spike it if you like (we won’t tell) and kick off the holidays with some culture. You fancy, huh? 


Tickets from $25 to $59 are available online at harbourfrontcentre.com,
by phone at 416.973.4000 or in-person at the box office.



*All images courtesy of Art of Time Ensemble, unless otherwise noted. 

Fave Five: Young Local Artists

Here on the fourth floor, we appreciate
the finer things in life and as such, are taking a moment to honour our Fave
Five young Torontonians who contribute to the arts and entertainment scene
in Toronto.



Li-Hill
Born and raised in Toronto and a
graduate of OCAD’s fine art program, Aaron Li-Hill is one of our favourite visual
artists. His dreamy, industrial inspired
pieces employ a variety of mediums; from traditional paints and sketches to a
contemporary use of graphic design and graffiti. His art has been shown in galleries
throughout Canada and was recently included in SPiN Toronto’s first Plywood graffiti
art exhibit. http://li-hill.carbonmade.com/


Little.White.Dress
Not only do we love fashion, we also
love Mother Earth! This is why Little.White.Dress is a local
designer that we’re keeping our eye on. Made up of Ryerson grads
Jessica van Enckevort and Alexandra Wilson, Little.White.Dress focuses on
making unique, eco-friendly bridal wear, cocktail dresses and accessories. We
love their use of vintage and repurposed fabrics, and that each of their
dresses is one of a kind. @LWDressToronto



Devin
Cuddy
No stranger to the Canadian music
scene, Devin was literally born into it. Son of Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Devin inherited more than just the famous
Can-Rock name and has been carving out a place for himself with the Devin Cuddy Band. Their country and New Orleans
blues inspired debut album Volume One was released on the Cameron House’s label, where Devin and his band can be
spotted playing every Wednesday. @DevinCuddy


Petra
Collins
Photog phenom Petra Collins  has made
her indelible mark on the art world with her nostalgic, sometimes
controversial, but always honest portrayal of young women. At just 19 years old,
Petra’s commercial clients include Urban
Outfitters, Vogue Italia, Chloe Comme Parris and Refinery 29.  In addition to that, she curates the female
art collective The Ardorous We love her unapologetic embrace of all
things feminine. @petracollins





Shasha
Nakhai
Since she moved to Toronto from Nigeria
as an international student in Ryerson’s Broadcast Journalism program,
Shasha has been an up-and-comer in the documentary film world.  She works full-time at award-winning
documentary production company Storyline Entertainment, and as a
producer/director for Squire Entertainment with Rich Williamson. Her very first documentary Baby
Not Mine
went on to win awards at the Human Rights Docfest and the Montreal
World Film Festival in 2009. Recently,
her documentary about the sugarcane industry in the Philippines, The Sugar Bowl  took Best Documentary and
Best Film at the 2012 Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, UK. @ShashaNakhai

Rave: Divas playlist

Working in an office of all girls has many perks – there’s always mascara to borrow, boy advice to be given and no one cringes when you talk about your time of the month. One slow-moving afternoon, when we all needed a little motivation, we spontaneously created what we believe is the greatest playlist of all time. The theme? Divas. 

Now, what makes a diva you ask? There’s a few criteria that come into play. You should be recognizable by your first name (i.e. Whitney, Celine, Beyonce, Aretha, etc). A set of pipes that can hit the highest of high octaves is helpful. Being notorious for insane demands basically guarantees you a spot (see: Mariah being carried everywhere, Madonna making TIFF volunteers face the wall). Finally, even if your vocals are sub-par, getting Ben Affleck to rub your booty in a music video means you’ve earned the diva title. 

Take a listen to the playlist (below) and let us know if you think we’re missing anyone. Tweet @rockitpromo if you have some diva-licious suggestions. 



City Living: Planet IndigenUS at Harbourfront

What’s the best thing about Toronto? There is always
something new to explore! This weekend is no exception. It marks the beginning
of the Planet IndigenUS festival at the Harbourfront Centre in association with
Woodlands Cultural Centre in Brantford. IndigenUS is the largest contemporary
international Indigenous cultural festival in the world and it only occurs once
every three years – so we don’t want to miss out (maybe we should see someone
about our fomo).
The festival celebrates current Indigenous culture.
With almost 300 performers from seven different countries taking part, the
presentation of Indigenous culture varies wildly. The acts range from Pow Wow Step to a Mongolian-folk-punk-rock
blend, to a high-energy technicolour dance performance by an Australian
company and a woman who weaves herself into a basket.
IndigenUS starts today and runs until Sunday, August 19, which means ten days
packed with great music, theatre, food, art and, if you’re willing to make the
trek to Gretzky’s hometown, even comedy. The selection of free fun to
participate in this weekend is overwhelming so we’ve listed our must see events
below.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

A Tribe
Called Red (ATCR) and Electric Pow-Wow
DJ Bear Witness, DJ NDN and DJ Shrub of ATCR created
their own blend of traditional drums, Jamaican dub and club beats, which they
call Pow Wow Step (and you thought Moombahton was the new thing). We can’t wait
to bust a move to some new beats. You can catch ATCR at 11 p.m. on Saturday,
August 11 at the Harbourfront Centre,
235 Queens Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre. 

Polytoxic
with Trade Winds
Australian dance-theatre company Polytoxic is known
for big bright performances. Trade Winds,
a story about the cultural exchanges that took place during the exploration of
the Pacific, is certainly a powerful visual experience. Polytoxic’s show starts at 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, August 16 to 18 at The Natrel Pond, 235 Queens
Quay West.
Image courtesy of Harbourfront

Ursula A.
Johnson: Basket Weaving Performance Art
Johnson has a theatre background and is able to turn
herself into a living piece of through her basket weaving. She will spend eight
hours creating her cocoon and emerge a butterfly. Just kidding, but we
definitely want to stop by for before and after shots. Ursula will be
performing from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 at Harbourfront Centre Site,
235
Queens Quay West.



Cris
Derksen: Electronica Cellist
Derksen is an award-winning Aboriginal cellist from
Alberta. She combines classic, folk and electronic styles to create her own
cross between traditional and contemporary music. We love classic strings with
an electric charge – and the girl’s got chops – she’s performed with Kanye West!
Derksen will be on the Redpath Stage,
235 Queens Quay West at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 18.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Heck Init
Comedy Night with Don Burnstick and Charlie Hill
Okay, Brantford is a little far (one to two hours from
downtown, depending on traffic) but it does claim rights to Gretzky and Bell,
plus, it boasts a casino. Burnstick and Hill will be there poking fun at
stereotypes and political issues. These guys are talented; Hill has appeared
with Letterman, Leno and other famous funny folk. Burnstick and Hill will be
performing at Woodlands Cultural Centre,
184 Mohawk Street, Brantford.

Image courtesy of Harbourfront Centre.

Hanggai:
Mongolian folk/punk ensemble
This group from China preserves tradition in the form
of the horse-head fiddle, tobshuur and throat singing and adds electric guitars
and drums. The resulting sound is an exciting blend. Hanggai can be seen on Redpath Stage Friday, August 10 at 7
p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West,
on WestJet Stage Saturday, August 11
at 3 p.m.,
235 Queens Quay West
and at
Woodlands Cultural
Centre, 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford at
8 p.m.

Rave: Osheaga artists

This long weekend, there’s only one question everyone’s been asking: are you going to Osheaga or not? A lucky few ladies on the fourth floor are heading to Montreal for the annual music fest, but the majority of us are not and are experiencing major FOMO


Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we compiled some of the acts we’re especially bummed to miss out on. Whether you’re trekking to la belle province, heading up to a cottage or hanging around the city, we hope this playlist gets your long weekend started off on the right foot. Enjoy.


Psst: because we think long weekends are nothing without music, we’ve created another playlist for Monday. Make sure to come back here and check it out!

Rave: Songs of summer

We thought it high time that we introduce another summer playlist, with all of our favourite anthems of summer. Nothing beats a summer Monday morning like a new playlist.


There’s quite the range of songs here, something for everyone. Chances are if you happen to wander up to the fourth floor, you’ll hear one of these blasting. Check out our past playlists here and here  and don’t forget our running playlist

Media, Darling: Karen Bliss

Karen Bliss is an established music
journalist for various print and web publications. She is currently the
Canadian correspondent for Billboard.com, writes for RollingStone.com
, MSN, AOL’s
Noisecreep, Elle Canada, SOCAN’s Words & Music and more. Along the way, she
has interviewed everyone from Eminem to Shania Twain, Jimmy Page to Britney
Spears. Karen also created an anti-racism animated PSA, The Girl With Pinhead Parents, voiced by Nelly Furtado, Chris Bosh, Jully Black and others
.
Last summer, she started a record label, Daycare Records, with
musician/producer Luther Mallory 
(former frontman for Crush Luther and now bassist
and producer with Fortune, fronted by JD Fortune)
. Their first signing is woe-is-me indie-pop
act The Danger Bees (album out this summer). She also owns and operates SamaritanMag.com,
 an online magazine about people,
charities and businesses making a difference. She has interviewed many musicians
for the site.


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
I actually became a music journalist
because I have no talent. I wanted to be in the music business and this was the
only way I knew how. Of course, as a small child I wanted to be a veterinarian,
and later, briefly thought it would be cool to be a cop or a criminal lawyer, but that was before I discovered The Rolling Stones and started going to all
the concerts I could during high school. I still dream of being a race car driver and/or an astronaut.

Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Doing exactly the same thing, but to a
higher and more accomplished degree.

Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
I typically say I am in the music business.
I consider that my industry. But for someone who would specifically like to be
a music journalist, you have to learn how to construct news and feature
articles (take courses and also look at how well-written articles are
constructed) and become entrenched in music. Go out to see bands, get to know how
the business works, attend panels at conferences such as CMW and NXNE, and
network. In terms of the “journalist” part, I believe I make my living from
ideas. Without them, I would be broke. To me, I’m not interviewing musicians; I
am interviewing people — and everyone has a story. It’s your job to discover
that story from the interviewee and write about it in an accurate and
compelling way.

What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
I am obsessed with hard news, more than
music journalism. I watch all those one- or two-hour investigative reports,
such as Dateline, NBC Real Life Mysteries, as well as 60 Minutes and 20/20. I
also love Anderson Cooper’s interviews; he approaches them with heart and intelligence
and is not afraid to call someone out.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Too many to mention.
Worst?
I have talked about this before, but
don’t want to put it out there on the Internet, never to be erased.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
In terms of my writing, very early on an
editor was going over one of my articles and said to me, “What are you trying
to say here?” So I answered. And he said, “Well, write that. Stop trying so
hard.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I
don’t live my life by any one rule. Maybe thou shalt not kill.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
 
Try and work with the journalist, even if the
request isn’t part of your current schedule ie. if an interview is requested
but it’s between albums or a tour to promote. Also, please help when
fact-checking is needed. Too often, publicists’ main agenda is to set up the
interview and afterwards there are some who can’t be bothered to help to
double-check names, dates and other information. The ones that do are the best
in their field in my books because they care about the accuracy of the final
article. 



Often, when I transcribe an interview, there are holes that need to be
filled or things people say that don’t make sense. I need the publicist to help
check facts with the artist or management, so I’m not just regurgitating false
info from misspoken quotes or the Internet. When I know the person I
interviewed, and can call or email directly, they often say, “Oh, I meant such
and such” or “Oh, it wasn’t 2005; it was 2008. Sorry.” Some publicists only
care that the article comes out. 



Also, sometimes I am asked repeatedly over
weeks to interview someone; I finally do, and the article comes out; I send the
link and I don’t hear a word back — not even a “thanks.” 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Too many to mention. My best experiences
are with competent publicists who get you all the materials you need to make a
good interview, go beyond the call of duty if you need something for a
particular story, and, as noted, will help fact-check. And also actually do send
the interview request to management and don’t just say “No” without trying.
I hate? 
Laziness, incompetence, excuses,
cigarette smoke, the drunk next to me at a concert, and walnuts.
I love?  
Music, talent, drive, intelligence, British humour, exotic food, big
dogs, Withnail & I.
Reading? 
I most recently read Michael
Eisner’s Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed because I have two of
the greatest partners I could hope for: Farley Flex for The Girl with Pinhead
Parents
and another, still-in-the-works sports venture; and Luther Mallory for
Daycare Records. I know I’m not always the easiest partner so this collection
of stories on various successful partners — from Eisner and Frank Wells
(Disney) to Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway) — provides
great insight into working together.
Best place on earth? 
I have climbed the steps inside the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt,
scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, but I still think home is
the best place on earth.
Dinner guest? 
Keith Richards, Martin Luther
King Jr., John Lennon, my friends and family.
Hero? 
Don’t have one. I admire many people,
usually those who are committed and hard working, don’t make excuses and go for
what they want in life.  I also admire
people who quit complaining about their jobs, quit, and pursue what they really
want to do.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Don’t have one.
Pool or ocean? 
Does one of these come with
the completion of this questionnaire? I’m not picky; surprise me.
Voicemail or email? 
Email for quick
messages or questions, but prefer talking on the phone for anything that needs
more in-depth discussion, clarification or brainstorming.

City Living: Playlists for running in the city

We thought that since we recently posted about Toronto running routes, it was only fitting that we provide you with some playlists that will help kickstart your run, keep you going and cool you down. With some new hits, old classics and a variety of music genres, we hope the variety will help inspire and encourage fellow runners as they jog or sprint around Toronto.

Indie/Alternative
While we wouldn’t normally associate indie/alternative music with running, we realized that when cranked up in our headphones, bands like Foster the People and Florence and the Machine make for some pretty energizing play lists. Check out who else made the cut.

Pop
For the lovers of Top 40 out there (yes, we are guilty of this from time to time) this is the perfect upbeat playlist that will most likely have you singing along as you run. Don’t forget to breathe between hitting the high notes.

Techno
Who knew that techno and electronic music had uses aside from dancing the night away at the Guvernment? Make sure to blast this music and you’ll be shocked at how intense your run can get. 


Hip Hop
With a little throw back to the 90s, this playlist shares the intensity of the techno playlist, but also has words to sing, or rather rap, along to. 


Too lazy to create your own playlist? Websites like Slacker Radio and 8 Tracks will make them for you! We have definitely found that music is the key to staying energized while running.  We also find it important to constantly update what you’re listening to in order to keep things new and interesting. So with warm weather on the horizon, grab your iPod, load your new playlist and head outdoors for a run!