Song of the Week – Guarda Come Dondolo, Edoardo Vianello


The Emmy Awards were announced last Sunday and I was again reminded that we are in a golden age of television. The quality of the programing, on cable, HBO, Netflix, and now Hulu and Amazon Prime, is outstanding. It seems like every week someone is recommending a “must see” series for me to binge watch. I have a long list and too little time.

One show that I did watch this year was (both seasons of) Master of None. The romantic comedy/drama was created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, and stars Ansari. It is well written and performed and totally charming. It was nominated for Emmys in eight categories last weekend and was the winner for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe).

One category the show was nominated for but didn’t win was Outstanding Music Supervision. It was for the hour long episode called “Amarsi Un Po.” I have to admit, the show used music from many different genres to great effect – each song perfectly selected to enhance the emotion that was unfolding on the screen.

That leads me to today’s SotW – “Guarda Come Dondolo” by Edoardo Vianello.

The scene is set when Dev (Ansari) and Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi), who is engaged but is developing feelings for Dev, are stuck at his apartment during a blizzard. She reluctantly agrees to spend the night at his apartment, but she really has no choice due to the severity of the storm. They get ready to go to sleep – she in his bed, he on the sofa – but neither can sleep; the situation causing a degree of anxiety. They agree to get up and dance. Francesca chooses the Italian pop song “Guarda Come Dondolo” (1962). The scene flawlessly conveys how they break the romantic tension by dancing to this goofy song. It’s perfect!!!

Here’s a clip of the scene:

“Guarda Come Dondolo” doesn’t translate to anything that really makes sense in English. Suffice to say that it is an Italian version of “The Twist.” So rock on!

Enjoy… until next week.

News of the Day: Beyonce Elpee contains Side A of an album by Zex

It took me a while to figure out what happened. But I think this is it.

Beyonce put out a vinyl version of her universally acclaimed musical/video project this week. It’s on yellow vinyl!

The problem? Side A doesn’t include Side A of Beyonce’s album. Somehow the pressing plant instead injected a side of a Canadian punk rock band called Zex’s songs onto that Beyonce A Side.

Good for Zex, though it’s hard to see where the audiences overlap. But the mishap got me listening to a few Zex tracks. (Frankly, I’ll listen to anything Canadian.)

My evaluation? Zex has a dynamic singer and decent chops, but the songs? Yeah, I know. Try this:

And you know, after listening to so much crap fake punk rock for a long time, this stuff seems pretty heartfelt, which is nice. Songwise? Maybe not all the way there, but the heart and head are in the right place.

I hope the mistake helps them. Here is an interview about the whole fiasco.

Are We Not Men? Pick Your Favorite Song from Devo’s Debut.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Devo lately. Not in any profound way, just thinking about listening when I got a chance. I got a chance today while making dinner. On goes Are We Not Men? We are Devo, which starts with the brilliant Uncontrollable Urge, moves onto (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, which I owned on 7″ long before the elpee came out, and then goes all over the freaking place. And I do mean freaking.

Remembering, at the time, I grouped the band with the Talking Heads, who had a similar angular geeky-ness, and the Tubes, who had an over the top theatricality. When I listen now I hear mostly classic rock moves, filtered through a novel lens, a lens which made it both surprising the band existed and that they then made hits with mainstream success and surprising that we didn’t see just how inevitable that was on first listen.

I think what I mean is, we knew weird. We loved Zappa, dug Alice Cooper, admired Captain Beefheart, but each of those personalities carved out his own space on the edges of taste and sensibility. They had some pop exposure, but they were happy to exist as novelties.

Devo carved out that space, then tried to bring the whole dang world into it. They were weird, uncompromising, and ambitiously popular, not content to reside on the sidelines with the other freaks. That was cool.

So, while listening to their first elpee tonight, I was struck by how strong the songs are. How little there is that is thrown away. Maybe none of it. And as I went from song to song I said to myself, That’s a great tune. Then, Oh, that’s a good one. Oooh, love it. Which got me thinking that maybe we all have different favorite songs from Are We Not Men? We Are Devo.

I’m laying claim to Mongoloid. It was the first Devo song I heard, it is the one I know all the words to and compulsively sing along to, but I’m pretty sure there are strong cases for others. What’s your favorite song on Devo’s first album?


Song of the Week – Mandinka, Sinead O’Connor


In 1987 Sinead O’Connor burst onto the music scene with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra. The 20 year old Irish lass with the shaved head and tattoos made it clear from the start that she would be an unconventional force to be reckoned with. That album did OK in the US, reaching #36 on the Billboard album chart and spawning a couple of singles that were popular on modern rock radio and in dance clubs.

A few years later O’Connor scored big time on MTV with Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” from her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. Everyone remembers the video close ups with her striking blue eyes and the tear drops that delicately roll down her cheeks toward the song’s sad conclusion.

But let’s get back to The Lion and the Cobra for today’s SotW, “Mandinka.”

“Mandinka” reached #14 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart at a time that I was a club DJ in Boston. It was one of my favorite tracks to spin.

Some people have interpreted the song to be a protest against the African Mandinkan tribe’s tradition of female genital mutation.

I have refused to take part
I told them “drink something new”
Please let me pull something through

I don’t know no shame
I feel no pain
I can’t

It would be no surprise if that wat the topic given O’Connor’s penchant for courting controversy. In 1992 she appeared on Saturday Night Live and tore up a picture of the Pope and tossed it at the camera to protest sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

In the late 90s she was ordained a priest in Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is not part of the Roman Catholic Church (that does not allow women to become priests).

As recently as 2014/15, O’Connor has released new music that has received nominations for music industry awards.

Enjoy… until next week.

Obit – Grant Hart – Husker Du – 9/14/17

Husker Du drummer Grant Hart died of cancer today at age 56. Zen Arcade was in my top 50 album list and the Huskers were true pioneers of the melodic dissonance sound copied a billion times over since their heydey in the 80’s. I was fortunate enough to see them live at some dump in Philly in their prime.

Of course, Husker Du is not in the Rock Hall. We need the space for rapper Tupac and seventh-rate copy punkers Green Day.

I know this is a song written by Grant and sung by him too. Adios, amigo.