Soundcheck producer Katie Bishop shares her favorite and least favorite music of year.
"He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake."
Yikes. Voiceover from a horror film trailer? No! Those are just some mildly disturbing lyrics from the beloved Christmas classic, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town." Ah, the holidays. Filled with good tidings, joy, presents -- and plenty of unintentionally dark and disconcerting musical lyrics disguised under a blanket of cheery major chords.
This Thursday, Soundcheck contributor Faith Salie joins us to share three holiday songs that give her the willies. We want to know: What holiday songs freak you out?
Leave a comment below, or call us to sing your creepy carol at 866.939.1612.
Hear two new Whitehorse songs "Cold July" and "Jane" from the band's upcoming album.
As the adage goes, "a lady never reveals her age." But then again, terms like "lady" aren't really all that welcome in the world of Free To Be… You And Me, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I'm 26 years old. I was born 14 years after the 1972 release of the feminist children's album that we've been talking about all week on Soundcheck. As a result, I had never even heard of Free To Be until a few weeks ago.
From what I remember, my favorite children's music pretty much avoided the issue of gender entirely, singing instead about animals. There was Raffi's "Baby Beluga," a song about an adventuresome whale that's never identified as a boy or girl, and Red Grammer's non-gendered cows and ducks and coyotes that all had a "Place In The Choir." My favorite cassette tape included a song about a stereotypically male farmer who had 500 sheep, but it was in French. And since I didn’t speak French, well, I had no idea what was going on.
However, as a little girl who was raised in a non-feminist household -- and who gravitated naturally toward the girliest of the girly things in life -- I also listened to plenty of Disney music, with all of its poofy dress-wearing princesses and heteronormative values. But despite a lack of childhood exposure to message-driven music like that on the album Free To Be… You And Me, it was always very clear to me that I could grow up to be anything: a doctor, a lawyer, a musician, whatever. And I also knew that it was really fun to play California Barbie Hot Dog Stand (yes, you read that right) with the little boy from down the street practically every afternoon. He seemed to think it was fine and dandy too.
When I did finally get around to listening to Free To Be just a couple of weeks ago, I was initially struck by how much the sound reminded me of the music from Sesame Street. That makes sense, because the album was produced by Carole Hart -- who, along with her husband Bruce Hart, worked on Sesame Street -- and some of its composers, like Stephen Lawrence, also worked on the show.
I was also quickly impressed by how the album balanced silliness with forthrightness, something that was perhaps lacking in my own animal-heavy childhood music experience. (Seriously, what's up with that?) The spoken word track "Boy Meets Girl," in which two babies (played by Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks) meet in a hospital nursery and discuss whether they might be boys or girls, is hilarious. But it's also a very direct look at male/female stereotypes. I can't recall anything quite like it from my own childhood.
If you happened to attend any of this year's CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, chances are you came across the name Sinkane. It's the project of guitarist and singer Ahmed Gallab -- who, in the past, has drummed for Of Montreal, Yeasayer and Caribou. The band played six CMJ shows in just three days, and then topped off an exhausting weekend with a release show for its debut album, Mars.
The name "Sinkane" is inspired by Joseph Cinqué, a West African who was illegally enslaved in the mid-19th century and eventually led a slave revolt on the ship Amistad. As Gallab tells host John Schaefer, "Sinkane is a word that I misheard in a Kanye West lyric. I heard the song 'Never Let Me Down' on his first record, and J. Ivy, who's rapping, says, 'Give us, us free like Cinqué,' which I misheard as Sinkane. I created this idea of who Sinkane was in my mind."
Gallab, who was born in Sudan, combines his love of East African soul with his indie pop and dance-ready electronic grooves on Sinkane's debut album. He and his bandmates perform a live set in our studio.
Listen to an exclusive track stream of a song from the upcoming original cast recording of the multimedia chamber opera "Song From the Uproar."
Listen to an exclusive full-album stream of the upcoming album from the Grammy-nominated bassist and vocalist through October 9, 2012.
It turns out that our listeners had a lot to say -- and sing -- about "Hava Nagila."
Producer Katie Bishop plays host John Schaefer a few of the Soundcheck jingles that have been submitted by listeners.
Our listener Ted in Atlanta sends us an update about his summer resolution project, proving that he has been hard at work achieving his goals.
The Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter explains the origins of his extended name - and plays with his quintet, live in our studio.
Kendra Morris is a New York singer with a penchant for retro soul and the supernatural. Stream her entire album - out next Tuesday, August 28 - exclusively on our site.
Composer and electronic musician Dan Deacon is known for his brilliantly cacophonous sound collages and high-energy dance parties. His forthcoming album is called America - and you can hear him perform some of it live in the Soundcheck studio.
"I can hear music for the first time ever, what should I listen to?" is the headline of a Reddit post that caught my attention today. A Reddit user named deafstoryteller writes, "I was born profoundly deaf and all music sounded like trash through my hearing aids. That is until a couple days ago when I put on a new pair of hearing aids for the first time in years."
Everyone pretty much agrees that singing to babies is a good thing. Singing can help strengthen the bond between parent and child; it nurtures brain development; and in fact, women are being taught to sing to their babies while they're still in the womb. Heck, even dogs know that it's important.
Well, all of us saw this coming. "All of us" being myself and the other 30 million people worldwide who've picked up copies of the sado-masochistic beach reads that are the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. (Whatever. I only read the first book, and I also read "The Great Gatsby" this summer, so don't judge.) This morning, EMI Classics announced that the novels have inspired an upcoming album - a literary soundtrack, if you will - comprised of 15 classical works featured in the books.
Our listener Andrea achieves her summer goal of forming an "all-shrink" band. We couldn't be prouder.
Don’t let your playlist wilt in the summer heat. WNYC staff, from Jad Abumrad to Soterios Johnson, share what they’re listening to this summer.
Earlier this week, we got an email from one of our Soundcheck Resolutions participants - Andrea. (You might remember her as the psychotherapist who wanted to start an “all-shrink” band.) She shared some good news with us that we’re going to write about later this week. But her email also included something else that we found particularly interesting: a link to this 1992 “Back to the Grill” MC Serch music video.