Friday, June 06, 2014
In this episode: The book Everything’s Coming Up Profits digs into the golden age of post-WWII “industrial musicals” created by big American corporations. Co-author and Late Show With David Letterman writer Steve Young shares some of the Broadway quality songs composed for the auto industry in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
Then: Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, tells Soundcheck the story of 20th century blues singer Gus Cannon, whose song “Walk Right In” was a hit for the Rooftop Singers in the 1960s. We take a listen to his minstrel-inflected music, and find out who he was singing for.
Plus: Another installment of our series That Was A Hit!?!, about "Baby, I Love Your Way / Freebird Medley" by Will To Power.
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
In a six-month period in the '60s, three movie musicals premiered: Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and The Sound Of Music. Each would sweep across American movie theaters, Billboard charts, and awards shows. They effectively killed the movie musical - here's how.
Matisyahu's Spiritual And Musical Evolution; That Was A Hit?!? On Telstar; The Death Of The Movie Musical
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
In this episode: Matisyahu, the self-proclaimed "Hasidic reggae superstar," found success and earned countless fans of both classic reggae and the Jewish community. Matisyahu reflects on the changes in his life, the evolution in his spirituality and music, plus he and his band performs songs from his latest album, Akeda, in the Soundcheck studio.
Then: Charts analyst Chris Molanphy shares the unusual and dark story of an instrumental hit from 1962, The Tornados' "Telstar," as part of Soundcheck's series, That Was A Hit?!?
And: In a six-month period in the 1960s, three movie musicals premiered: Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and The Sound Of Music. Each would sweep across American movie theaters, Billboard charts, and awards shows. They effectively killed the movie musical, according to the recent book, Roadshow: The Fall Of Film Musicals In The 1960's.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
In this episode: Alex Timbers, director of Rocky: The Musical, discusses the challenges of bringing a beloved sports movie to the stage -- plus, we hear about his other projects, like David Byrne's disco musical Here Lies Love and his upcoming project with Oscar-winning Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
Then: On her latest album, Make My Head Sing, Jessica Lea Mayfield eschews her established country-flavored songs and unleashes a sharp-edged and noisy grunge sound. Hear the Ohio native perform her new songs in the Soundcheck studio.
And: For its latest “extra credit” challenge, Studio 360 wants you to record a version of W.C. Handy’s 100-year-old song “Yellow Dog Blues.” Producer David Krasnow talks about “the father of the blues,” his influential song, and how you can participate in “The 1914 Blues Challenge.”
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
"A Gentleman's Guide to Murder" nabbed 10 nominations, and "Hedwig" earned eight. Not so lucky? Denzel Washington, James Franco, Michelle Williams and a bunch of other Hollywood stars.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
All this week on Soundcheck, we're talking about nostalgia and New York music in collaboration with New York magazine, which this week is presenting their annual "yesteryear" issue -- this year, focused on New York City music. And we've asking listeners which decade you're most nostalgic for. Today, New York magazine's Jody Rosen returns to look back at one of his favorite eras in New York, the 1920's.
Friday, February 28, 2014
If you were a kid in the 1970's, or if you raised kids during that decade, you probably spent time with Free To Be... You And Me. The seminal album and popular television special was jam-packed with catchy songs, but also contained very progressive messages about gender roles, feminism, tolerance and how it's not always easy being a kid.
Later in March, the Paley Center For Media celebrates the LP, the book and television program, so in honor, Soundcheck looks back some of our favorite moments from our three-part series marking the 40th anniversary of the record.
First, we speak with the Emmy Award-winning TV producer Carole Hart, who co-produced the record and the 1974 Afterschool Special by the same name. Hart shares the story behind the album -- and the controversy it engendered. Plus, we hear from cultural historian Lori Rotskoff, who co-edited a new essay collection called When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children's Classic and the Difference It Made.
Then, we look back at the record's attempt to challenge gender stereotypes and promote tolerance. We explore the impact those now-40-year-old messages had on a generation of children and their parents, as well as the album's limitations. We also examine what child psychologists now believe -- and promote -- when it comes to children and gender.
And finally, we chat with some of the people behind the music found on the album: Emmy-winning composer Stephen Lawrence, who wrote the album's title track as well as "Sisters and Brothers" and "When We Grow Up" and lyricist and composer Carol Hall, who wrote "Parents Are People," "Glad to Have a Friend Like You" and "It's All Right to Cry."
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
This spring is shaping up to be a busy one on Broadway – especially when it comes to new musicals. Joining us with a preview is Michael Riedel, theater columnist for the New York Post and co-host of the weekly TV show Theater Talk on PBS.
Michael Riedel on If/Then (opening March 30)
This is an original musical, which is something unique these days on Broadway -- not based on a movie, not based on a book -- written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, who did Next To Normal, which won the Pulitzer Prize. It is what its title is -- If/Then. It's a series of questions posed in one's life: if I had done this, then that would have happened. But if I'd done that, this would have happened.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
In this episode: When Soundcheck wants to talk about the music and the brain, Daniel Levitin has been our go-to guy. So when author and neuroscientist -- whose books include the bestsellers This Is Your Brain On Music and The World In Six Songs -- was approaching his 1000th interview, he marked the occasion sharing a playlist of some of his favorite songs as part of our Pick Three series.
Then: Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady mark a high point in the movie musical -- and sounded the death knell for the form at the same time. Roadshow! author Matthew Kennedy explains why.
And: Yuna is a Malaysian singer-songwriter who's gotten attention for her R&B-inflected pop both at home and abroad. Hear her perform a stripped down set in the Soundcheck studio studio and to tell us about why Coldplay is uber-romantic.
Carole King’s Broadway Musical 'Beautiful'; Economist Paul Krugman Talks About 'Billie Jean'; Beats Music
Thursday, January 30, 2014
In this episode: Actress Jessie Mueller plays a very convincing Carole King in the new Broadway musical Beautiful. The young star talks about her one and only meeting with the legendary songwriter and s she performs songs from the show live in the Soundcheck studio.
Then, Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman also happens to be a diehard music fan. He shares a few favorite songs as part of Soundcheck's series Pick Three.
And: Beats Music is the latest entry in an already over-crowded market of streaming music services market that includes Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and others. So how does Beats Music compare? Eliot Van Buskirk, editor at Evolver.fm, gives his first impressions after a week with the new service.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
In this episode: Hip-hop lyrics almost always describe life on the streets -- or what it feels like to get away from it. But some rappers in New York are describing life in a little too much detail, which is catching the attention of the NYPD. We hear about how detectives are decoding lyrics to solve crimes – or prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Then: Diane Birch performs songs from her second album, Speak A Little Louder -- a record full of songs she could “dance around the house to and sing into a hairbrush” -- in the Soundcheck studio.
And: In case you hadn’t heard, Disney’s latest animated musical, Frozen, is killing it at the box office and on the pop charts. Its soundtrack has been at the top of the Billboard 200 for two weeks and is now set to be adapted for the stage.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
In this episode: Thanksgiving is behind us and you know what that means: Christmas music. Everywhere. All the time. Esquire's Sean Manning shares some new holiday releases including some new gems and a few stinkers too.
Then, jazz bassist Ben Allison and his band performs songs from The Stars Look Very Different Today, his sci-fi film-influenced new album with a title that tips its hat to a David Bowie song.
And: Lisa Kron -- who wrote the book and lyrics for the new musical Fun Home, which is playing at the Public Theater through the end of December -- shares a Pick Three playlist of some of her favorite songs.
Monday, December 02, 2013
In this installment of Soundcheck's series That Was A Hit?!?, Mario Correa explains how "One Night in Bangkok," a song from a musical about chess, became a chart-topping pop hit.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In this episode: Some parents stubbornly cling to music of the past: the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, that George Winston album that gets dragged out over the holidays. Writer Paul Ford joins us with some simple ways to trick parents into liking, say, Sky Ferreira.
Then, as the world readies itself for the NBC "Sound of Music" live remake, we debate the merits of the original musical and film with NPR’s Linda Holmes and Sound of Music enthusiast Peter Kiesewalter.
And, the heralded young Detroit-based rapper Danny Brown talks about his hometown, explains why he likes to cuss so much when he’s not on the radio, and tells us what he’ll be having for Thanksgiving dinner (spoiler alert: chitlins with hot sauce). Plus, he performs live in our studio.
Friday, November 15, 2013
The legendary choreographer and director Bob Fosse forever changed the way America dances. He's the only person to win an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy in the same year. And according to Sam Wasson, author of the new biography Fosse, he revolutionized the American musical twice.