Before Ray Davies of The Kinks is inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame this year, we examine the often-overlooked British band in our Soundcheck Guide to The Kinks.
In this episode: With former Kinks frontman Ray Davies will be inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame this year, explore the British rock band’s must-hear tracks, deep cuts and, well, better-left-unheard songs with Billboard editor Joe Levy in our official Soundcheck Guide to The Kinks.
Then: The North Carolina band Lost In The Trees has gained a reputation for acoustic folk that packs an emotional punch. But on its new album, Past Life, the band is plugged in and maybe even hitting the dance floor.
And: The makers Pandora think they know you well enough to sell you shoes, diapers -- and political candidates. Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin explains how Pandora can tell whether you vote blue or red, and how the online music streaming service plans to make money off both colors.
Soundcheck wraps up Madonna Week with a look at a more modern side of Madonna's career with Billboard editor Joe Levy.
An unpublished lyric sheet from Bob Dylan is up for auction this summer. We hear about the song, hear some interpretations recorded by fans, and dive into some well known Dylan covers.
The iTunes store was a game changer ten years ago, when it first emerged. Billboard editor Joe Levy discusses the online music and media store's impact on the music industry a decade in.
Every third Saturday in April since 2008, faithful fans of vinyl have lined up at the doors of their local independent record shops to buy limited edition releases in honor of Record Store Day. Before the annual event this Saturday, April 20th, Joe Levy and Ben Greenman debate whether or not we should focus on one day devoted to records.
In this episode: Since 2008, the third Saturday of April has been unofficially designated "Record Store Day." It’s become an international celebration of music and independent record stores -- and, a holiday worthy of a Smackdown debate. Perhaps we’ll issue a limited edition 7” vinyl of the audio recording of Joe Levy of Billboard and Ben Greenman of the New Yorker duking it out in our studio to mark the occasion.
Plus: Guitarist William Tyler joins us in the studio to play songs off of his third LP, Impossible Truth.
And: It’s been a good season for new releases. eMusic editor-in-chief J. Edward Keyes shares some new music that's been catching his ears.
Greil Marcus once pointed out that lyrics are something that are felt before they’re understood. But Billboard editor Joe Levy reflects on why misunderstanding lyrics is sometimes more fun.
As soon as you put words to music, there’s a good chance someone is going to misunderstand them. Misheard lyrics, or mondegreens, are funny -- but they also tell us something about how we listen. We queue up some classic misheard lyrics. Plus Local Natives perform in the studio.
If you have a favorite misheard lyric -- or mondegreen -- Soundcheck wants to know!
The number one album on the Billboard chart this week is from the 36 year old country star Luke Bryan. The number two album is from a musician who hasn’t recorded a new song for more than 36 years -- Jimi Hendrix. His new, posthumous album is called “People, Hell And Angels.” Billboard editor and Soundcheck regular Joe Levy joins us to discuss. You can read more on the album from Joe Levy here.
If you looked at the charts this week and saw that Jimi Hendrix’s newest, People, Hell & Angels debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard album tally and that David Bowie’s latest was on its way to claiming the No. 1 spot on the UK charts, you’d be forgiven for wondering if we’d all tripped, fallen into the Way Back Machine, and landed in 1972.
That’s the year that Bowie immortalized a Hendrix-like figure on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, capturing all the lost potential and mythic power of rock’s greatest improviser on songs like “Rock & Roll Suicide.” Two years earlier, on September 18, 1970, Hendrix had become the first of the rock stars to die for our sins (beating Janis Joplin by a mere 16 days), though like many of the departed starmen and women, he’s never really left us.
Last week, Billboard magazine published its yearly roundup of the industry’s top earners in their “Music’s Top 40 Money Makers” list. We tapped Billboard editor Joe Levy to serve as our quizmaster in our Money Makers test. Play along at home!
In This Episode: Billboard magazine recently published its list of top earning artists from the past year – and some of the numbers might surprise you. We put listeners’ music and money knowledge to the test, with a quiz about tour dollars, album sales and high-rollers. Plus, you can play along at home.
Plus: R&B veteran Keith Sweat has been recording steamy slow jams for more than 20 years. He joins us to dole out relationship advice taken from his new (song-title-referencing) book, Make It Last Forever: The Dos and Don’ts.
And: The country-tinged minimalist duo The Milk Carton Kids play live.
The latest installment in our That Was A Hit!?! series about improbable chart hits looks at Candyman's 1990 song "Knockin' Boots."
Today, Soundcheck is debuting a new, occasional series called That Was A Hit?!?, in which we examine the baffling success of pop hits that probably should never have been pop hits. In our inaugural installment, Billboard magazine's Joe Levy delves into a few songs that strangely found themselves near the top of the charts, including Bloodrock's 1971 hit "D.O.A."
"Laying here looking at the ceiling," goes the first line of "D.O.A." by Bloodrock, which could be a pretty promising start for a Top 40 single from 1971, especially since just a few seconds later the singer is telling us about something warm flowing down his fingers. Hey, maybe little explicit, but it is the ‘70s, the decade where soft-rock come ons that started with stuff about climbing on rainbows progressed quickly to blunt propositions like, "If you’re wondering where this song is leading, I’d like to make it with you."
Thing is, the second line isn't about a warm wind blowing the stars around or pina colada fueled walks in the rain. It’s about a hospital attendant pulling a sheet across the singer's chest. That warm stuff causing the sticky fingers? Human blood!
"D.O.A." is definitely deserves a nomination for the strangest hit of all time: 4:35 of plodding chiller-theater rock sung from the POV of a guy who’s been in plane crash. "I try to move my arm and there’s no feeling, and when I look I see there’s nothing there." His girlfriend is dead next to him. The chorus? "I remember! We were flying along, and hit something in the air." Bloodrock were distressingly literal, so along with ambulance sirens you get details like "the sheets are red and moist where I’m lying" and the climatic line, "God in Heaven, teach me how to die." It’s actually kind of simple: First you stop breathing...
It’s hard to imagine something this gruesome on the radio, let alone on enough radios across the nation to climb the chart. Thing is, it was a No. 36 hit for six-shaggy haired dudes from Ft. Worth, Texas, one of whom was a would-be pilot who’d actually seen a friend die in a small plane crash and written “D.O.A.” in response.
Billboard editor Joe Levy joins us to kick off a series about surprising pop hits.
Billboard editor Joe Levy says that growing old in rock 'n' roll is uncharted territory. Is there such a thing as 'too old to rock'?
Soundcheck contributor and Billboard editor Joe Levy says that some of rock 'n' roll's biggest and oldest stars are having banner years in their sixties and seventies. What do you think? Is there such a thing as too old to rock?
Joe Levy of Billboard joins us to explain year-end sales numbers for the music industry.