Thomas Dolby: Where Is He Now?

thomas_dolbyThis week at Slacker we’re celebrating all things 80′s & New Wave while our Slacker countdown, the 101 Greatest New Wave Songs cranks in the background. What can we say, we’re New Wave fans! Some folks here (like myself) would even argue it was the greatest period ever in the storied history of Rock music. The hair, the synthesizers, the androgynous edge, the elevation of punk ethos and pop excess straight into outer space- what’s not to love?!

So in the spirit of celebration, we’re taking a rewind/fast forward look at some stand out New Wave artists to get a sense of what exactly they’ve been up to since their New Wave peak and where they are now. Today: Thomas Dolby!

I got to interview the legendary musician as part of Slacker’s partnership with Moogfest, an eclectic music festival in Asheville, North Carolina back in 2012. While predominantly known for his quirky 1982 hit “She Blinded Me With Science,” Dolby’s career has taken off in multiple fascinating directions.

After releasing his fourth album Astronauts & Heretics back in 1992, Dolby took a break from recording albums and turned to the world of business and technology. His first venture was called “Headspace,” a company that developed a new file format for downloadable music. He then founded a ringtone company and even composed the now ubiquitous Nokia theme. (Listen to it here, you totally know it!)

250px-Thomas_Dolby_at_TEDIn 2001 he came on board as musical director of the TED Conference, both providing actual music for the event and booking guest speakers and entertainers. And in 2012 he filmed a documentary about the decommissioning of a lighthouse near his home in Suffolk England. One thing’s for sure: Thomas Dolby, like any true artist and innovator, is never bored!

[Post by @PartyBen – partyben.com/]

 

B-52s: Where Are They Now?

The+B52s++1980This week at Slacker we’re celebrating all things 80′s & New Wave while our Slacker countdown, the 101 Greatest New Wave Songs cranks in the background. What can we say, we’re New Wave fans! Some folks here (like myself) would even argue it was the greatest period ever in the storied history of Rock music. The hair, the synthesizers, the androgynous edge, the elevation of punk ethos and pop excess straight into outer space- what’s not to love?!

So in the spirit of celebration, we’re taking a rewind/fast forward look at some stand out New Wave artists to get a sense of what exactly they’ve been up to since their New Wave peak and where they are now. Today: the B-52s!

First up, let’s get one thing clear: the apostrophe in “B-52’s” went away in 2008; it’s just one of the many mysteries surrounding this band. The Athens, Georgia combo were both ridiculously innovative and innovatively ridiculous for their time. It’s hard to imagine now how truly odd they seemed back in the late ‘70s, with beehive hairdos, a thrift store aesthetic, and gay members who aren’t afraid to be a bit camp on stage. This was Georgia, people!

The release of “Rock Lobster” in 1978 catapulted the band to international fame. It reached the Top 10 in Ireland and Canada and eventually inspired John Lennon to return to making music. While founding member Ricky Wilson’s tragic and untimely death from AIDS in 1985 sidelined the band for a few years, they were to go on to even greater success, with “Love Shack” and “Roam” both peaking at #3 in the US.

b522The band laid low for an even longer period after 1992’s Good Stuff, and didn’t release a new album until 2008’s Funplex, which received strong reviews. While the band continued to be a successful concert act, playing around 50 shows a year, in 2012 founding drummer and multi-instrumentalist Keith Strickland announced he would no longer tour with the band. Currently, Kate Pierson is reportedly working on a solo album. While there are no tour dates or releases planned for the band at the moment, you never know what to expect with the B-52s, one of the strangest and most groundbreaking acts to ever grace the charts.

[Post by @PartyBen – partyben.com/]

 

Bow Wow Wow: Where Are They Now?

Bow+Wow+Wow+Bow_Wow_WowThis week at Slacker we’re celebrating all things 80’s & New Wave while our Slacker countdown, the 101 Greatest New Wave Songs cranks in the background. What can we say, we’re New Wave fans! Some folks here would even argue it was the greatest period ever in the storied history of Rock music. The hair, the synthesizers, the androgynous edge, the elevation of punk ethos and pop excess straight into outer space- what’s not to love?!

So in the spirit of celebration, we’re taking a rewind/fast forward look at some stand out New Wave artists to get a sense of what exactly they’ve been up to since their New Wave peak and where they are now. Today– Bow Wow Wow!

I imagine this to be what happens at every marketing meeting on earth- a brand or product is conceived, market research is studied, the “Four P’s” are discussed… and then you hire a 13 year old Anglo-Burmese girl you found working at a laundry mat and build a band around her to really sell it. Right?

Worked for Bow Wow Wow, the British New Wave band created in 1980 by Malcolm McLaren to promote his and Vivienne Westwood’s New Romantic fashion line. In fact, McLaren’s pitch was so persuasive, he managed to poach guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and drummer David Barbarossa away from Adam And The Ants, (leaving poor Adam in a lurch to find new bugs). Once McLaren landed a lead singer in the form of 13-year-old Annabella Lwin, the master plan was complete!

However the band quickly found themselves at the center of controversies related to their album artwork and the content of some of their singles. The band was only allowed to tour outside of the UK once McLaren had assured British authorities he wouldn’t promote Lwin as a “Sex Kitten” as a result of the album cover for See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy, and EMI famously refused to promote their single “C-30 C-60 C-90 Go” because it allegedly promoted home taping as the Side B of the release was blank. Totally reasonable.

In fact, the band’s biggest hit, “I Want Candy” was the only single released from their EP The Last Of The Mohicans and barely scrapped the Top 50 at the time, but has since become an enduring New Wave classic.

Fast forward to 2014 and you’ll find Bow Wow Wow has since gathered a roster of interesting admirers including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Sofia Coppola, (who says she drew inspiration from Annabella Lwin as she crafted the style of her film Marie Antoinette), and the band Pretty Girls Make Graves, who covered “C-30 C-60 C-90 Go”. There are also two iterations of Bow Wow Wow playing today- one fronted by Annabella Lwin and the other under the guidance of bassist Leigh Gorman.

So what’s the lesson here? If you’ve got a got a New Romantic fashion line you’d like to launch- go build a band to sell it. You’ll make waves and be remembered. And puffy shirts the world over will rejoice.

Need some additional 80’s eye candy to jog the ‘ol memory? Here ya go, just remember to put Slacker’s, 101 Greatest New Wave Songs on in the background to round out the whole thing!

1. A Light In The Attic

 

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2. Married With Children

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3. Pillow People

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4. Teddy Ruxpin

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5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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6. Donkey Kong

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7. Jellies

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8. Bill & Ted

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9. Slouch Socks

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10. Punky Brewster

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11. Skip-It

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12. Jem

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13. He-Man & She-Ra

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14. Team Cyndi or Team Madonna

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15. Lisa Frank

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16. Cabbage Patch Kids

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Dead Or Alive: Where Are They Now?

DeadOrAliveThis week at Slacker we’re celebrating all things 80’s & New Wave while our Slacker countdown, the 101 Greatest New Wave Songs cranks in the background. What can we say, we’re New Wave fans! Some folks here would even argue it was the greatest period ever in the storied history of Rock music. The hair, the synthesizers, the androgynous edge, the elevation of punk ethos and pop excess straight into outer space- what’s not to love?!

So in the spirit of celebration, we’re taking a rewind/fast forward look at some stand out New Wave artists to get a sense of what exactly they’ve been up to since their New Wave peak and where they are now. Today– Dead Or Alive!

Holy moly let’s just get this part out of the way- Pete Burns, founder and lead singer of British New Wave band Dead Or Alive, looks pretty wild. Pretty much always has.

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Burns is often considered the poster child of New Wave androgyny and has pushed the boundaries of style, sex and art throughout his career. In fact, Dead or Alive was the product of two previous bands founded by Burns; The Mystery Girls and Nightmares In Wax, which both positioned Burns’ appearance as the primary “Wow Factor” it seems. Rumor has it the catalyst for Burns deciding to morph Nightmares In Wax into Dead Or Alive was pressure from local British music promoters to really “commit” to his outrageous appearance. Thanks British music promoters.

The result was a band that found loads of success on the British charts in the 1980’s- seven Top 40 UK singles and three Top 30 UK albums. Their biggest hit, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” went to #1 on the UK singles chart, #1 in Canada and crossed the pond to peak at #11 in the US, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. What followed was a string of additional singles and albums that flirted with success on the charts, but drove the band further into controversy- videos banned from MTV, retailers complaining about album covers and gothic/horror movie overtones seeping into the mix.

So fast forward- Dead Or Alive never really broke up, but was pared down to Pete Burns and drummer Steve Coy throughout most of the 2000’s and the band continued to release albums comprised of new material, remixes and covers. Pete Burns also managed to solidify himself as a fixture of British reality television, appearing in Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity Wife Swap & Pete’s PA as well as several TV specials where he recounted his experiences with plastic surgery and of course… he had his arm twisted into performing “You Spin Me Round” on just about all of them.

We’re glad Pete Burns is still with us and we’re glad Dead Or Alive happened; besides the fact that we love the music, he sure makes the folks chasing youth and vanity in Hollywood look like a bunch of cowards!

Need some additional 80’s eye candy to jog the ‘ol memory? Here ya go, just remember to put Slacker’s, 101 Greatest New Wave Songs on in the background to round out the whole thing!

1. Ecto Cooler

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2. Glo Worm

 

 

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3. Tee-Shirt Clips

 

 

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4. Super Mario Bros.

 

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5. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

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6. Pogo Ball

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7. Gremlins

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8. Reebok Pumps

 

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9. Belle And Sebastian

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10. Double Dare

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11. Giggles

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12. Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego

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13. Bubble Necklaces

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14. Alf

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15. Small Wonder

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16. A Balanced Breakfast

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Grammy’s A – Z!

GRAMMY A-ZSlacker serves up a sweeping retrospective of the biggest hits and misses in the history of the Grammy Awards–in alphabetical order! Join your hostess Red, as she recounts Grammy record-breakers from Adele to Kanye to Sinatra, with a barrage of Grammy trivia lining up with each letter of the alphabet. It’s the Grammy A-Z; something that could only happen on Slacker.

P!NK Top 33!

PINK 33Pink has become one of the biggest names in music by doing things her way. The uncompromising singer was named the #1 pop musician of the first decade of the 2000s by Billboard magazine. This week she releases her new “Truth About Love Tour” DVD, and in celebration Slacker has put together a station counting down your favorite Pink songs using our Engagement Quotient. Get the party started with the Pink Top 33!

Grammy Awards 2014!

GRAMMY 2014Hello and welcome to Slacker’s Grammys 2014! On this station Slacker celebrates the 56th annual Grammy Awards with a collection of this year’s major nominees from Daft Punk to Black Sabbath, as well as highly anticipated performers like Metallica and Eurythmics. It’s your home for all things Grammy, and you can listen here- it’s Slacker’s Grammys 2014.

This Week’s EQ Charts Are Here!

TOP 40-COver the Christmas holidays, Slacker’s EQ charts were overcome with holiday songs across nearly every genre. Who knew that there was such a thing as EDM Christmas music? Now that we’ve all settled in to 2014 and the seasonal songs have subsided, here are some insights from Slacker’s EQ charts for the week of 1/8/14:

Queen Bey is predictably taking Slacker’s Hip Hop/R&B chart by storm—she moves up 14 spots to crack the top 10 with “Drunk In Love,” and her “XO” debuts this week at number 38, moving up 115 spots. And after being featured as the “New Music First” pick on last week’s Slacker Top 40 countdown, Jason Derülo’s “Talk Dirty” shoots up a remarkable 124 spots to debut on the chart.

Phantogram’s “Fall In Love” is the most engaging new song of 2014 thus far amongst Slacker’s Alt/Indie listeners—it moves up 48 spots to debut at number 31 this week. We also see significant spikes in listener engagement on Echosmith’s “Cool Kids,” and NoNoNo’s “Pumpin Blood.” This is likely due to these songs’ inclusion and exposure on Slacker’s new “Artists To Watch 2014” station.

At Pop, Katy Perry pulls an EQ hat-trick; her “Roar” continues to hang in the top 5, her “Unconditionally” moves up 7 spots to land at number 11, and her “Dark Horse” jumps up 16 to crack the top 20. That’s 3 songs in the top 20 for Ms. Perry. A favorite of your Slacker curators continues to win over new fans in the Slacker nation: John Newman’s “Love Me Again” moves up 13 spots to land at 26, and his new album “Tribute” is Slacker’s Album of the Week!

EDM is by no means a new art form, but the idea of DJ or producer as international mainstream superstar is a relatively new idea. And when it happens, it happens in a major way. To wit: based on Slacker EDM listeners’ preferences and engagement with individual artists and songs, 7 out of the top 10 songs on the chart belong to 3 artists: Avicii, Zedd, and Calvin Harris.

Two things have become clear when we analyze Slacker’s Country EQ charts over the last 6-9 months. Slacker country listeners are adventurous—they embrace new artists as much as the established super stars—and they are fully embracing the pop-crossover sound that is currently taking Nashville by storm. For example, Cole Swindell’s “Chillin’ It” is number 1 by a healthy margin for the 4th week in a row, Frankie Ballard’s “Helluva Life” is the fastest mover of 2014 thus far, as it moves up 6 spots and cracks the top 15 for the first time, and Luke Bryan has 2 songs in the top 10.

And finally, we predict that 2014 is the year that Rock evolves. Much like the Alternative charts of a few years ago, the Rock chart in 2013 was dominated by a small handful of legacy artists, like Alice In Chains, Papa Roach, and Three Days Grace. But in recent months, we’ve seen a shift: the Slacker rock audience is starting to engage with newer, more contemporary rock artists in a significant way. Artists like Black Veil Brides, Bring Me The Horizon, Trivium, Asking Alexandria, and Gemini Syndrome are all present on the chart as 2014 begins and they are all on the rise.

You can listen to the  Slacker Top 40 station here–a countdown featuring the 40 most engaging tracks of the week, hosted by Slacker DJ Parker. And check back next week to see how millions of Slacker music fans just like you push songs up and down the charts—just by listening, skipping, Hearting, and banning the songs that you hear!

Want to learn more about what the EQ score is? Read more here or check out our nifty infographic here.

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