Category Archives: R&B

Dionne Warwick, always a heartbreaker

My first impression of Dionne Warwick was from listening to her pleasant, calming vocals during car rides with my mother 30 years ago. In the ’80s, her music was experiencing a mini revival, gaining new fans from her time hosting “Solid Gold” and riding on 70s hits like “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and the 1982 disco-jazzy “Heartbreaker.”

My second impression was that she was from San Jose — she must be, because she says so in the song, right? Apparently a lot of people have thought that, which is what she told me during our interview recently. But the Princess of Pop was totally cool with it and doesn’t fault people for assuming she’s from the West Coast. But she grew up in New Jersey – slightly different locale. One of my favorite lines from the song is when she airily suggests dropping $100 to help buy a car. Sounds like a deal to me!

At the time though, I didn’t realize she was part of one of the most successful collaborations in popular music history. The three of them — Warwick and songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David — struck gold with memorable songs like “Say A Little Prayer,” “Walk On By,” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

It’s a massive catalog. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to her hits from the 60s, it’s worth it. Part of it is the Bacharach/David easygoing style of orchestral melodies and brass that makes them memorable, part of it is how Warwick was able to melt so gracefully into the lyrics. “Walk On By” is one of my most favorite songs ever; the piano line is so comforting, like a rainy Sunday.

Some of the songs haven’t aged as well — “Wives and Lovers” has a fantastic, breezy melody. The song is a good example of that ’60s James Bond-style grand sound, but the lines about keeping pretty so your husband doesn’t leave are pretty stale now.

I’ll finally get the chance to see her live tonight in Derry, NH. Hearing songs in person when you’ve had the original stuck in your brain for years is a weird experience. She’s probably not going to sound like she did then, but that’s what will make her performance unique.


Leave a comment

Filed under '60s, '70s, Disco, Gospel, New Music, Pop, R&B, Soul

Charles Bradley cancels tour dates due to cancer diagnosis

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires have canceled their upcoming tour dates. In a statement released today, the soul singer, 67, announced that doctors have found a cancerous tumor in his stomach.

Bradley wrote part of the statement:

In the past few months, I have had to cancel a number of shows due to illness, taking me away from my beautiful fans.

My doctors recently discovered a cancerous tumor in my stomach.  

I’m getting the best medical care and we are all extremely optimistic. I will fight through this like I’ve fought through the many other obstacles in my life.

My upcoming tour dates will be postponed so I can concentrate on healing.

Thank you all for understanding. Music is how I share my love with the world, and the love that my fans have given back brings me so much joy. I look forward to seeing your gorgeous faces soon, and to continue to share my love through music.

Bradley has been on the road for much of 2016, but has recently canceled several shows  in light of his health issues. The press release states part of his time off will be for treatment and recovery. 

After Bradley worked as a cook for 10 years, he lived in various cities across the country, playing  at small venues and working menial jobs for about 20 years. His career began again in 1996 under the alias “Black Velvet,” as a James Brown impersonator. He was later discovered by Daptone’s Gabriel Roth. His first single was 2002’s “Take It As It Come, Pt. 1” and “Take It As It Come, Pt. 2.” Since 2011 he’s released three albums, including Changes, out this year.

Read more about Bradley in this 2011 story.

While I haven’t covered much of Bradley’s music on the blog, I’ve admired his music and soulful style, and I hope he makes a quick recovery.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music News, R&B, Retro Soul, Soul, Uncategorized

FKA twigs is back with sleeper hit ‘Good To Love’

FKA twigs is back again with a rather mellow R&B song, by her standards. “Good To Love” is pretty tame when you compare it the material on last year’s steamy Melissa EP, but it’s still distinctly twigs. Her vocals can range from a growl to a delicate vibrato, and her pretty vocals on “Good To Love” betray a deeper sadness when she says, “make my body come alive/I’ve got right to hurt inside.”


The video for “Good To Love” is completely disorienting; shooting it in black and white doesn’t help right your brain. Footage balances out between white sheets and tight shots of FKA twigs and her interpretive dance moves.

Twigs offers this description: “This whole video is a visual representation of me trying to wake up in the morning.” Knowing what we know about twigs, this is probably accurate.


There’s no word on whether “Good To Love” is part of an upcoming EP, but it’s good to see her putting out new music again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alt R&B, avante garde, Electronic, indietronica, New Music, R&B, Trip-Hop, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Erykah Badu imparts cosmic wisdom to fans on Okayplayer

Singer songwriter Erykah Badu, maker of the baddest rendition of “Hotling Bling” to date, recently answered fans’ questions for Okayplayer.

Hear gems of wisdom from the Analog Girl in a Digital World as she discusses her new mixtape and other pressing matters on “The Questions.”

(Disclaimer: The “Hotline Bling” link in the first graf is not the best, but it’s been removed from Soundcloud, as it’s now on her But You Caint Use My Phone EP.)

In the meantime, listen to Badu’s live performance of “Tyrone” to get a sense of the Queen’s power:

Visit for more, and check out highlights of her Reddit AMA.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blues, Erykah Badu, Jazz, Neo-Soul, Okayplayer, R&B, Soul, Uncategorized

For no good reason I listed the movies in the Adele “Hello” supercut

If you were searching for a new way to memorize some of the lyrics to Adele’s “Hello,” “Hello By the Movie” is here.
Watch/listen to this supercut of “Hello” in which actors in several famous movies voice the words to Adele’s hit, which by now has received the covers treatment more times than is really necessary.
And the movies in the supercut, created by by Matthijs Vlot, run the gamut from serious to hilarious – Monty Python and Austin Powers are here, alongside the Terminator and Scarface. They didn’t leave in Lee Evans’ hilarious balancing act in “There’s Something About Mary” just by accident.

The movies they chose are varied enough and from a wide cross-section of films that you should be able to find your favorite somewhere along the way.

Hear the possessive way Arnold Schwarzenegger says “everything” or the heavy way Bruce Lee says “outside” and you’ll be hooked. The supercut is just the right mix of Adele’s classic romantic lines and unforgettable movies. Think of it as the greatest hits a la “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World.”

For some reason I decided to list each movie and/or which actor spoke a little piece of Adele’s mind, already knowing it was futile because I just don’t know all the movies. Anyway, it was fun doing the back-end research. If you can fill in some of these blanks, please do.

Here’s the the majority of movies/stars you’ll get a glimpse of in the supercut. Dashes indicate movies/actors I don’t know. I’m sorry I didn’t catch them all — forgive me.

Sasha Baron Cohen as Ali G
Edward Norton – Primal Fear?
Demi Moore in a Few Good Men
Rick Moranis
Zach Galligan in Gremlins
Dr. Zhivago?
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate
Sean Connery in James Bond
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze in Batman
Alec Guinness in Star Wars
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat
William H. Macy in Fargo
Harrison Ford in Return of the Jedi
Sylvester Stallone in (some iteration of) Rocky
Mark Hamill and R2D2 in Star Wars
Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Arnold Schwarzenegger (again) in ….. something
Michael Palin (King of Swamp Castle) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Jock in Lady and the Tramp
Gonzo in early Sesame Street movie
Lumiere and Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast
—- (guy with one red eye?)
Big Bird in another Sesame Street movie
Will Ferrell in Anchorman
Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds
Pumbaa in The Lion King
Jack Black in School of Rock
Roy Scheider in Jaws
Leonardo DiCaprio
James Garner


Al Pacino in Scarface
Clint Eastwood
C-3PO in Return of the Jedi
Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty
Dana Carvey in Wayne’s World
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop
Lee Evans in There’s Something About Mary
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy in Batman
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black
Mike Myers in Austin Powers
Richard Gere in Pretty Woman
Mark Hamill in Return of the Jedi
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate
E.T. in E.T.
Sasha Baron Cohen in Borat
Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Bruce Lee
Roger Moore in James Bond
Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights
Mike Myers in Austin Powers
Arnold Schwarzenegger (really? again??)
Christopher Reeve
Bill Murray
Danny DeVito in Twins
Maggie Smith in Harry Potter
Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire
Will Smith in Ali
Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man
Edward Furlong in The Terminator
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter
Holly Hunter (Elastigirl) in The Incredibles
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming To America
…. and a very sad Bart Simpson closes it out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adele, Classic movies, Pop, R&B, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Hiatus Kaiyote covers Gorillaz’ “Dare”

Hiatus Kaiyote gives a cover nod to "Dare"

Hiatus Kaiyote gives a cover nod to “Dare”

Melbourne quartet Hiatus Kaiyote gives an update to Gorillaz’ “Dare” in this live studio performance for Australia’s Triple J “Llke A Version” series.

It’s a very hip, very jazzy, eclectic take on “Dare.” It’s also full of synth and soul, making it sound like a perfect fit for “Plastic Beach.” It’s definitely worth a listen. Check it out here.

(FYI: The earrings that singer Nai Palm are wearing are dragging her earlobes down abnormally, but she doesn’t seem too affected by it.)

The band is also readying their new 18-track album, “Choose Your Weapon,” out May 5 on Flying Buddha/Sony Music Masterworks. Their EP “By Fire,” out last December, contains three tracks from “Choose Your Weapon.” Watch a video of Hiatus Kaiyote performing the EP in Paris here.

More info on their SXSW performance and North America tour dates will be forthcoming.

Leave a comment

Filed under Neo-Soul, R&B, VIdeos