Love or Hype? Michael Jackson’s Thriller Album

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Last year, I ran the segment Throwback Thursday where I rediscovered things that I appreciated in my youth and see if it passed the test of time when I reemerged myself in it. This year, I’ve decided to run a new segment, Love or Hype?, where for the first time I check out something that was immensely popular but I never took the time to check it out.

For my first Love or Hype? of the year, I’ve decided to take a listen to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Sure, I’ve heard a song or two from the album in passing (you’ve had to live under a rock to NEVER have heard a Michael Jackson song because he was simply that globally famous), but I’ve never listened to the album in its entirety. Up until now, Thriller is undoubtedly the most bestselling album of all time with 66-million copies sold worldwide. So obviously, it can’t possibly be a terrible album, right?

Let me preface that I’m not a fan of eunuch type male voices (which is the sort of voice that Michael Jackson had), but with the catchy tunes found within this album, there’s a reason why he was coined The King of Pop.

With hits like, Thriller, Baby Be Mine, The Girl is Mine, Billie Jean, and Beat It even the most reluctant dance can’t help but feel themselves itching to move their feet. And even after all this time, the album still proves to be fresh. I know that Michael Jackson’s legacy throughout the years has faltered (either by being too eccentric and weird to being accused of child molestation), listening to this album without thinking about those things makes you appreciate the man as a musician.

And after all these years, I can admit that I can see what the hype was all about. Even if his voice isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, 66-million people weren’t wrong in consecrating this album as the most sold album of all time.

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Without You I’m Nothing: Celebrating 21 Years of Placebo

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The year was 1998 and as usual for that time, I was watching music videos on TV. Not on MTV cause only if you were living in Northern Italy could you get that channel, but rather it was an indie music channel that heavily focused on rock. In between moments of boredom and trying to figure out complex math problems, I looked up and noticed him. The person in question was Brian Molko. There was something strangely enigmatic and enchanting about his nasal voice and sparkling charcoaled eyes that made it impossible for me to look away. And starting into the deep abyss of his blue gaze, I knew that nothing would ever be the same for me.

For the past 21 years, Placebo’s music has been the soundtrack to my life. There’s an inexplicable bond between myself and those songs that now they belong more to me than they ever did to the band.

I recall early winter mornings where the dreariness of January had hit is peak and I’d pop in Pure Morning to wake myself up. Those months where I continued to cut my own hair, each time shorter than the last and burying myself in a grey cashmere sweater, just hoping that something would melt the chill that nestled inside of me.

I recall heady summer days where I shared my passion with my cousin Melody. Of course, someone who had suicidal tendencies would be drawn to My Sweet Prince, a song that depicts a suicide over a lost love. We were young and fearless, blasting the stereo with Molko’s dark lyrics as we applied lipstick in Crimson Sin. We were 18 and ready to take the world by a storm with pearls and posh seduction.

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I remember a time in Paris when dressed in a red flowing gown I danced to Twenty Years. When my soulmate looked into my eyes and held me like he was never going to let me go. That I wouldn’t be slipping out of his hands once dawn arrived. That we weren’t planning on saying goodbye. Pretending that everything was perfect. But perfect only existed in our optimistic dreams and was never based on our reality.

Then there was the time when, listening to Bosco on repeat, sitting in the passenger seat and looking out into the city with tears in my eyes because I wanted so desperately to hold onto someone that was clearly slipping away from me. My friend Lexy sighing from the driver’s seat, telling me to move on, that if I could just do that, then maybe I could be maybe. But, just as unrelenting and soaked in sorrow as that song was, I was unable to move on or let go. Until two years later. Because something we’d rather clutch love’s skeleton than to admit that it is dead and gone.

I’ve been listening to Placebo for so long that I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t listening to their music. And today, since it is Brian Molko’s birthday (he turns 47) it seemed the most fitting for me to dedicate my blog post to him.

Happy Birthday, Brian and thank you for the music and the memories. I’ll forever be shouting into the void, Soulmates never die.

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Lionel Richie: Hello Tour Review

When I was proposed to go see Lionel Richie, I knew that I had to seize this opportunity to see a living legend perform live. For the younger generation he may be known for being the father of Nicole & Sofia Richie and recently as judge of American Idol, but for the older generation, the four-time Grammy Ward Winner was the soundtrack of their dancing youth and makeout sessions.

I don’t watch American Idol, so I only know Richie for his music, but the performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl proved that he not only can sing but is a mighty funny showman too (he could’ve had a whole other career in stand-up comedy, the man is hilarious!). At 70, Richie still commands the stage and can work the crow like very few performers can.

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With iconic hits like Penny Lover, Say You, Say Me, and Easy, the crowd couldn’t help but relive happy memories linked to those songs. By the time he belted out Dancing on the Ceiling and Stuck On, the audience was heated up to dance like it was 1977. And if you ever wondered if women in their sixties and seventies can still bust out some crazy moves, then let me assure you that they can and then some!

By the time the evening came to a close, I knew that the king of glittery jackets would be back for an encore, when the only song he hadn’t sung from his Greatest Hits was All Night Long. And sure enough, the charming crooner returned to give the crow just what they had been waiting for. And for one night, we all felt that we could’ve danced all night if given the chance.

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Throwback Thursday: Andreas Johnson – Glorious

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1998-1999 was a golden age for music. Or at least I thought it was, seeing that many of my favourite bands came out with albums those two years that I not only loved but defined me, such as Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Garbage’s 2.0, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication, just to name a few.

During that time I had also become a big fan Swedish singers, and Andreas Johnson came out with a song and music video that was absolutely thrilling, called Glorious.

The song was catchy from the very beginning and like most Swedes, Andreas Johnson was quite the eye candy (especially for all of us teenage girls). Now, the music video wasn’t crazily original (as it just showed him performing the song on some stage upon another stage and then in a bedroom in the company of a model-looking girl). Despite it not being a video that screamed with originality, there was something very sexual and sexy about the beautiful couple making out on a bed at that looked like to be dawn (maybe they had spent the whole night partying or they met at a club?) only to fall upon the bed in a shower of silver glitter. Back then, I was in full mode glam-mania (Manson had ditched his goth guise for feather boas and platforms as Omega in Mechanical Albums and the movie Velvet Goldmine was set in 1970’s London, heyday of glam rock had just been released). This was the time I used to wear glitter liner and star rhinestones at the corner of my right eye. I’m telling you, we were much cooler than the emo crowd.

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I can’t recall when it was the last time I had listened to this song but surely it was around 1999-2000 timeframe, because if you were living in Italy at the time (as I was), there was no way you didn’t her this song on the radio at least four times a day. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV Italy too. So, watching the video and listening to the song almost twenty years later I discovered that the song is still hella catchy today, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the opening lyrics when Johnson croons, “Here she comes with a masterplan, and I’m starting to lose control.” Mind you, we never get to know what this masterplan is unless it’s referring to her seducing him (maybe?). And even two decades later, falling upon a bed of silver glitter still seems thrilling (forget rose petals! Rolling around in glitter that evoke stars is my fantasy!).

The song doesn’t sound dated to me (maybe cause it’s a love song), although I suppose the music video could be seen a bit dated. But honestly, it’s still way more exciting than videos most artists are releasing nowadays (the death of MTV as a music channel brought death to the music videos).

Glorious was an all-out fun, sexy song that sticks with you far longer than you think it should. Maybe because we’ve all fantasized about meeting a sexy stranger at a club to end with a dawn filled with passionate glitter sex. No? Just me?

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Poetry: Starry Eyes

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Your neglect has managed to

Burst my heart into so many tiny pieces

That I was unable to recover all

The love that I bled out

I listen to your old songs about me

In hopes that I can feel that rush

I felt the first time that our eyes locked

Nothing could give me more joy

Than to feel

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

I had a Kate Moss smile

Your nonchalance was so very James Dean

I read all the books you loved

If only to see the world from your perspective

My whole essence breathed you into me

I’ve never been the same again

There’s a hole in my chest

Where all my love for you resided

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

What kills me

Is that I remember everything about our days

Together

What kills me

Is that I can’t recreate that feeling of starry eyes

With anyone else.

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Throwback Thursday: Dr. Jones – Aqua

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For someone who’s a self-proclaimed connoisseur of rock music, it’s probably very perplexing to understand why I’d enjoy a pop band like Aqua. Sure, I tried to resist this Danish-Norwegian band with their earworm music and bubbly demeanor. When Barbie Girl became popular, I resisted, they weren’t going to have me! But when Dr. Jones was released I could no longer resist and caved into the bubblicious world of lightness that was Aqua. Perpetually happy and poppy, the band sang about notorious icons such as Barbie and Indiana Jones. Mattel notoriously tried to sue them but a judge dismissed the case in 2002 allegedly stating, “The parties are advised to chill.”

The song though didn’t really have that many Indiana Jones references, the lyrics were more about a summer love (think Grease). But the music video was genius campiness to the max. I also truly loved the female lead singer Lene Nystrom, she was a breath of fresh air, because she dared to defy the busty 90’s gals that had been helped by silicone. Lene had a badass attitude wearing crop tops that read, “No Silicone Added.”

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But much like the heyday of the ’90s, even Aqua’s eternal optimism fizzled with the oncoming of the new millennia. And so, for awhile Lene tried a solo career, becoming one of those many busty gals singing suggestive songs that she used to mock. When the band reunited in 2009 and did a cover of Abba’s My Mamma Said, we immediately knew that this band wasn’t the same anymore. The music video was one of the most visually darkest moments for the band, as you see them reunited around a table, dressed in black as they were being served the strangest foods as roaches walked all over the table. Even their voices had lost their signature cheerfulness and instead had turned more morose. It was official: the once happy pop band had turned dark.

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There had also been a shift in the band dynamics. Before, at the height of their popularity, Lene was dating the male lead singer in the band, Renee. But then she later got married to another Aqua member, drummer, Soren, and the two were married for sixteen years before divorcing in 2017 (the couple has two children together).

So what did I learn from re-listening and rewatching a video I hadn’t seen since 1997? Well, I’m thoroughly confused as to why the cannibals were speaking French, but other than that, the light campiness of Dr. Jones is just as infectious now as it was in 1997. Although now, when I listen to it I’m taken back to a place where my teenage problems seemed so trivial to the real-life troubles that one only understands once you reach adulthood. Nowadays, I relate more to the Aqua members in My Mamma Said, disillusioned and nostalgic for their lightness but now consumed by the darkness.

And despite all those books and movies about how much light wins over the dark, the last two decades have proven that darkness has been prevailing and we’re all left longing for that time in our lives when we used to enjoy light pop songs like Dr. Jones.

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As Lene sings, “Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones wake up now,” I wonder if we’ve all been sleeping and that the past two decades have simply been one prolonged nightmare. Who isn’t ready to wake up now? I know I am.

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1995 Alanis Was My Spirit Animal

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A week ago, the internet was set on fire when someone dared to criticize Alanis Morissette’s multi-Grammy winning album, Jagged Little Pill. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a current Alanis fan, however, there was a time when I fiercely loved that album and her. So, much like when things have ended with an ex, and you may not currently be in love with them, there will always remain the good memories of your time spent together, and in a way, you will always defend those memories. That’s exactly how I feel about Jagged Little Pill. Living in southern Italy during my youth, it meant that I was bombarded with female musicians who only sung of their broken hearts, begging for ungrateful exes to return to them, or images of TV hosts where they were barely dressed, showing off huge breasts and silicone enhanced lips. To be a woman meant to be passive and beautiful, almost like a pretty Christmas ornament.

But I couldn’t relate to those women, and thus felt very much an outsider living in a town where men stared at you like you were a pretty piece of flesh and that you were obligated to think that cat-calls were compliments in disguise, cause, after all, it only happened to the pretty girls. It also meant having nothing in common with any of the girls living in that town, who would spend hours sitting in the town plaza waiting and hoping for their crushes to pass by with their mopeds. When I’d declare that I wouldn’t wait for hours for a guy to show up I’d be seen as “weird”. Other times, people assumed I lacked passion simply because I refused to be a human doormat for men. I was very passionate as a teen, especially when it came to the guy I was majorly in love with, but I also loved myself enough not to be willing to wait six hours in the town plaza in hopes that maybe the guy would show up, to only be stood up. Cause more often than not, that’s how events played out for my friends.

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I don’t remember exactly how I came across Alanis, but probably it was through the radio (southern Italy didn’t get MTV) and I believe it was the song, You Learn, cause in patriarchal Italy, that was the least offensive song of the album. But for me, You Oughta Know was my jam. I remember playing Jagged Little Pill uber high that the walls would shake and my neighbors complained. They couldn’t understand the rage I felt, after all, I lived in a society that expected me to just be pretty passive. I was considered a freak for wearing dark blue nail varnish, fishnet stockings with Docs, and coating my lips in dark shades of Vermillion. In other words, I didn’t look “safe”.

Alanis was my gateway drug to Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani (No Doubt heyday was angry, not like today’s pop persona), and Shirley Manson, women who were even angrier and far more outspoken than her. I’m not trying to say that Jagged Little Pill saved my life, but it made it more bearable. It made me feel that there were other girls out there who had a similar rage and outspokenness. That there wasn’t anything wrong with me for wanting to reject the notion of what a woman should be, whether or not others agreed with me.

In 1995, Alanis was pretty much the rock goddess of angry rock that we all needed (I know I did), so to compare her legacy and efforts to a childish song like Baby Shark is not only insulting but downright cruel. I may not be into Alanis’ music nowadays (she’s too mellow for me now, and I never outgrew my anger and angst), but I’ll always defend the woman and the album that made an outcast not feel so much alone. I may have been out of place in Sicily, Italy, but I knew that belonged somewhere. Where the legions of angry girls resided.

1995

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Throwback Thursday: TLC – No Scrubs

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When the single NO SCRUBS came out twenty years ago (February 2, 1999), TLC was the best-selling girl group in the world and fierce feminists at a time when the music world was suddenly getting overrun with Lolita-esque divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

I chose this song for my Throwback Thursday because when the song came out I loved the message it promoted. For the first time, you had women who were confident enough to say, “NO.” No, they didn’t want a man who had no ambitions and was a deadbeat parasite. And if you think that this message wasn’t bold, you’re gravely mistaken. For centuries women have been groomed to always say, “Yes,” that stating a “NO,” loud and clear, for women to actually have standards of which men could pursue them, this was a big deal.

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Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes were known for being bold, independent, and outspoken young women. They were no damsels in distress, these women were ambitious and hardworking and didn’t expect anything less from their men. This song actually had men questions themselves for the first time, ask themselves if they fit the “scrub” list or not. Ironically, usually, the men who did fit the “scrub” list were the ones who got the most upset over the song.

Of course, this song wouldn’t have been the same without Hype Williams amazing futuristic music video, especially in an age where music videos could make or break a career (this was back in the day when MTV still predominantly only aired music videos on their channel). Hype Williams at the time was considered to be one of the best music video directors around with his bold colours, anime style sequences, and notorious for his fish-eye view which distorted the image in central focus. In his vision, Chilli, T-Boz, and Left-Eye were futuristic warriors that could be both sexy but ferocious, in other words, they were fierce.

The video went on to win the MTV Video Music Award for that year, beating out the all-male competition of boy bands like Backstreet Boys and Nsync at their career highs, which was no small feat.

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Listening to this song twenty years later only emphasizes how much this message is still relevant today. Not that long ago when just idly chatting with my boyfriend in the car, he said he couldn’t understand my need for all this ambition, that he’d still love me even if I were a slob who’d spend all day at home and wait for him to return and he said something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t you love me still the same way if I were like that?” And I replied, “Look, as TLC taught me, I don’t want no scrub. I’d never date someone with no ambition or dreams to be better.” Probably not the kind of response he was relying on (after all, most men would hope that women are “romantic” enough to like them even at their worst), but it’s the truth.

I expect a lot from myself and would never dream of being someone who’s just looking for a way to get out of work to stay at home. So for anyone to think that I’d expect less of them just because out of romantic notions is kind of absurd. TLC taught many girls the power to say no, and that’s a lesson that many of us took to heart. I know I did.

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Top Ten Halloween Songs

Hosting a Halloween party and need to find the perfect tunes, or maybe you just want to get into the festive mood? Whatever your reason, the music world has lots to offer in regards to scary songs. So use this playlist as a guide to help you infuse your nights with some major creep factor.

I Put A Spell On You – Marilyn Manson

The shock-rocker gave this cult classic his own creepy vibe to it with his unique Mansonesque ways (dark vocals, death drums).

Welcome To My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

There no way that a Halloween playlist could be complete without the master of shock rock himself, Alice Cooper, named after the ghost of a woman he spoke to through the ouija board, it can’t possibly get creepier than that.

Astro Zombies – The Misfits

The Misfits are those goth friends of yours that wished they could celebrate Halloween everyday, and with their undead looks and spooky lyrics, these fellows are living the goth dream.

Pet Sematary – Ramones

After being inspired by Stephen King’s novel by the same name, about using an ancient Indian burial ground to bring loved ones back (always a mistake!), they explored why sometimes dead is better.

Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy – Fresh Prince

As a HUGE Freddy Krueger fan, I just had to choose a song that was written inspired by the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Too bad that Wes Craven wasn’t too keen on the rappers using references to the movies, suing them for copyright infringement.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

This strangely seductive song has been a staple of the horror culture and suicidal teen goths of all ages. It’s been used in Halloween and Scream, and although the band’s leadsinger assures that the song isn’t about a romantic suicide pact, it’s hard to decipher the lyrics, “Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity, we can be like they are,” as anything else.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is one creepy dude, and his whole Murder Ballads album could pretty much be the defacto go to album for Halloween. This song was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the vengeful hand of God. This song is considered so creepy that it’s been used in all three Scream movies, so you know you can’t go wrong with Cave when it comes to dark and twisted.

Helena – My Chemical Romance

In the early aughts, Gerard Way had perfected the living dead boy look to a T. The song is inspired by the death of his grandmother, whilst the video shows the band during a funeral and at the song’s climax, the lady of the hour, Helena, herself gets up from the coffin and shows that the after life can be as much of a dance party as the living.

The Devil’s Rejects – Rob Zombie

Named after the movie he directed of the same name, Rob Zombie has been creeping kids out since 1995. He’s a huge horror fan and nothing goes better with rock than dark lyrics.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

No proper Halloween playlist is complete without Michael’s iconic single that catapulted him to stardom. Bonus perks to this track: The king of horror himself, Vincent Price recorded the spoken word section. You can’t get any more horror-infused than that!

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

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A candid photo from when I got talked into modeling for Back to School attire (P.S. that’s vegan leather so no worries!) 

  1. I’m bilingual. I’m fluent in Italian and English.
  2. I was born on a Thursday, January 8, just like David Bowie.
  3. I drink every beverage with a straw, and yes, this also includes hot tea and coffee. (Method to my madness, drinking from straws lowers your chances of damaging your teeth and staining them).
  4. I studied piano for close to ten years. I had a love/hate relationship with it, as I love music and loved playing it, but hated the long practice time (over an hour every single day) of it and being forced to study Bach by my teachers (when I preferred Beethoven, I actually decided to learn to play the piano because I was obsessed with his music).
  5. If you only know me through blogging, then you may not know that I’m a writer, and have several books up for sale on Amazon including a paranormal urban fantasy: CUT HERE, a collection of short stories: DOLL PARTS – Tales of Twisted Love, and an anthology I edited: MY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE – Women In Horror Anthology.
  6. My first celebrity crush was Leonard Nimoy who played Spock on Star Trek when I was two, and yes, I did prefer him because of his quirky ears and thus began my path of crushing on odd dark-haired men.
  7. My favourite city in the whole world is London, England. I love it so much that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it.
  8. My love for lipstick started at the tender age of three when I begged my aunt to leave me one of her lipstick tubes. I haven’t stopped wearing lipstick since.
  9. The historical figure I’ve been obsessed with since I was three is the last French Queen Marie Antoinette. Watching the anime Lady Oscar – The Rose of Versailles for the majority of my childhood did have a hand in that.
  10. My four favourite novels are novels I’ve read more than once (which I often don’t re-read novels as I have a good memory and find it hard to reread something I already know everything that’s going to happen) are: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Interview With the Vampire (Anne Rice), 1984 (George Orwell), and A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens).                                                                                         White and Pink Strikeout Cosmetics Beauty LogoDid you enjoy what you just read? If yes, then FOLLOW THE BLOG, give the post a like, or leave a comment! New posts are up every Tuesday & Thursday!