Chuck Berry died last month, prompting the usual flurry of tributes and retrospectives befitting a legendary talent. To my shame, I realized I’m only tangentially familiar with the career of one of music’s great pioneers.
In fact, I’d managed to post 3,208 Songs of the Day without once featuring him.
I’ll remedy that this week by offering up five classic Chuck Berry tunes that helped redefine popular music.
Hmm, what are the odds? Eight days after the Random iTunes Fairy served up a track from David Byrne’s 1992 album Uh-Oh, she came right back to the same album.
‘Now I’m Your Mom’ is an odd song, either poking fun at or celebrating the transgender community. I think the lyrics lean toward a supportive stance but the falsetto reading of the title line feels like schoolyard taunting.
‘I Wanted To Be Wrong’ has the dubious distinction of being the best song on the worst album by one of the best bands of all time.
2004’s Around the Sun was R.E.M.’s unlucky 13th album, the third without drummer Bill Berry and their most uninspired effort. Only this song and one or two others are worth hearing.
The week’s final Chloe x Halle track is another cut from their Sugar Symphony EP, written by the sisters themselves. It’s a more traditional piano ballad than yesterday’s SOTD, but only slightly more traditional.
Had they written it two years ago, I could easily see Beyoncé putting it on Lemonade. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of their songs makes it on whatever Queen Bey releases next.
Last year Chloe x Halle released Sugar Symphony, their first EP on Beyoncé’s Parkland label. It’s part of a reported six album, $1 million deal.
Those terms have proved to be quite controversial among fans and YouTube commenters. Some call it a lucky break that 99% of YouTubers can only dream of, while others call it modern day slavery. $500,000 apiece for six albums does seem awfully low, although if those albums are 6-track EPs like this one, they might come pretty quick.
Here’s why Chloe + Halle are more interesting than thousands of other singing YouTubers. A few years back, when they were 13 and 16, they posted this cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Pretty Hurts.’ And it caught the attention of Queen Bey herself.
Chloe, the older sister in Chloe x Halle (on the left here), has the “better” voice in a traditional R&B sense. She’s the little Beyoncé, after all.
But Chloe’s voice has a lot of character, and a jazzy element that I actually prefer. She also seems to be the guitar player of the duo.