Tag Archives: artists

My Favourite New iPhone Game

In picking up a new iPhone 13 mini with heaps of storage space, I have been gradually transferring over my music collection to my new device.

In doing so, I have been able to reconnect with so many musical artists I haven’t been able to listen to in the last few years, given the minuscule amount of storage on my previous phone… My mistake… Lessons learned.

Now, with approximately 13,000 songs on my new phone, there is a fair bit of scrolling going on to get from album to album. But interestingly enough, within my scrolling time, a new game caught my eye.

It’s not the kind of game you need to download from iTunes, it’s just a serendipitous discovery I made along the way.

I don’t know if you’ve had the same experience, but the premise of the game goes like this:

While scrolling through the alphabetically sorted list, I started noticing “neighbours” in the list, like Bon Jovi and Bonnie Raitt.

Note: Yes, I know that Raitt starts with an R, but iPhone/iTunes sorts the list on the first name or word.

From there, it is a game of first impressions. Would I like to see these two neighbouring artists or bands in creative collaboration? Would I buy their music? Would I pay money to see them in concert?

In some cases it is a clear yes, in others, not so much.

Back to our first example, I think Bon Jovi and Bonnie Raitt might indeed form an interesting collaboration. I would be interested in seeing them create music or perform together.

In scrolling through my playlists, I see some very natural pairings that would probably make good music together: Enigma and Enya would be delightful to me. The harmonies of ABBA and Ace of Base would probably sound pretty angelic. And who knows, the combined creativity of Niall Horan and Nick Jonas could lead to an interesting duet.

What about Bette Midler and Beyoncé?… is the world ready for this much power on one stage?

Would I pay to see Eurovision winners, Måneskin and Måns Zelmerlöw perform together? Definitely!

What about seeing Lady Gaga do an album of Led Zeppelin covers? Given how she has demonstrated that she can do pretty much anything, I could totally see it.

Another combination that I think would be impressive would be to see Panic! at the Disco sharing the stage with P!nk.

A collaboration between two of my long-time favourites, Kristin Chenoweth and Kylie Minogue, would definitely be worth spending time in a virtual waiting room for tickets.

But when musical tastes like mine cover a pretty wide spectrum, it should come as no surprise that some pairings might lend themselves to a clash in musical styles. For example, an unlikely pairing might be Depeche Mode and Diana Krall. Both excellent musical acts on their own, but I don’t think I would hold my breath that they would share a stage or a studio together. But as the old adage goes… never say never.

In a similar vein, Doja Cat and Doris Day might be a rather stark contrast in musical styles. And yes, for the record, I do have a Doris Day album in my collection. Who doesn’t love Doris Day?

Other pairings that are probably not likely to happen are Pink Floyd and Prince, Billy Idol and Billy Joel, Sugababes and Supertramp. But truly, in today’s musical universe and with technology, anything is possible.

I confess that there are some playlist neighbours that have me thinking “hmm, interesting”, but I can’t really picture the outcome either way, if such collaborations ever happened:

Hall and Oates and Harry Styles;

Kate Bush and Kelly Clarkson;

Jonas Brothers and Josh Groban;

Backstreet Boys and Bananarama;

Matchbox 20 and Matt Dusk;

Spice Girls and Split Enz;

Steps and Sting;

Just the same, given that they are all amazing artists on their own, who knows what kind of music magic such collaborations could produce.

But there is definitely a pair of favourites that make my heart go pitter-patter every time I see them scroll by together: Could you imagine the dance party that would be hosted by Dua Lipa and Duran Duran? I think that would sound pretty fabulous!

So as new music is released and gets introduced into my playlists, I look forward to the amusement of seeing more of the likely and unlikely pairings that can form in my iPhone’s alphabetized lists.

 

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André

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A Return to My Gluttony for Music

Not too long ago, I ran into the “Oh no!” moment that many of us experience at one time or another: The moment when one’s mobile device is having a near-death experience.

It’s not like it was unexpected. Shopping for a new phone has been on my list for a little while. I just hoped that it could have waited a few more months.

The problem was my iPhone 7’s connector port, the one used for recharging and for using headphones. Any cord in that port wasn’t staying in properly anymore. What began as an occasional issue now required progressively more jiggling for it to:
(a) stay in, and
(b) to find the sweet spot for it to recharge or to send music to the headphones.

Needless to say, going for a walk or a run with the phone has been out of the question for several months.

Ironically, this phone was probably the one that has endured the least amount of wear and tear of all of the phones I have owned in the last twenty years. Let’s face it, like most of us, it spent the pandemic at home for two years. Continue reading

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The Writer’s Studio

I have always envied artists when they made reference to their “studio”.

When a recording artist referred to “time in the studio”, it always inspired me as that special place where the magic of creativity happened. It was the incubator where ideas were hatched and where new sounds were created. It was the place where the collective creativity of songwriters, producers, engineers, musicians and singers culminated in the birth of new musical material.

Similarly, when seeing visual artists working in their studio, it struck me as a sacred place that gave them a chance to play, to experiment and to work in their chosen medium, to translate vision, imagination and creativity into physical form.

It didn’t matter whether actors, photographers or fashion designers mentioned “studio”, the word itself was to me like an incantation invoking the spirit of the creative masters of the centuries. The term “studio” always gave me palpitations.

But I have often asked myself, “Do writers have studios too?”

Why shouldn’t they?

While on the one hand, I could refer to my writing room as an “office”, I just concluded a 33 year administrative career, working in offices. To me, the term office doesn’t necessarily associate itself to a space for deep creativity, but that’s just me and my baggage talking. Continue reading

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The Challenge of Writing Funny Stories During Covid-19

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, I have often wondered how other artists were coping with it, and how their creative processes were impacted.

In the beginning of the self-isolation period, this was all very new to us and like most people, I turned to the news to remain informed and to try to make sense of it. But it didn’t matter which channel I watched, even when the coverage was seemingly balanced and factual, it was scary. For an empathetic, sensitive person, the statistics alone drew very strong emotions.

In trying to find levity, I turned to social media only to find many people posting the same news articles that were starting to get me down in the first place. In the spirit of psychological self-preservation, I had to taper my news consumption and to self-isolate from social media.

When times get tough, I have the honour of being able to say that I can turn to my art to try to keep my mind occupied and to centre myself.

In the early years of writing this blog, I made the conscious decision that I wanted this to be a light, safe and fun place for people to turn. This was as much for the readers as it was for me. Once I reached that decision and found my voice, the stories followed without having to look too hard for them.

As the pandemic struck, I already had several blog posts in first draft, recounting the stories of stress, anxiety and unexpected humour behind the recent purchase of a home and the selling of my current home.

Finalizing those blog posts and keeping to my usual posting schedule was relatively easy. Coming up with new material after that series was surprisingly challenging.

I think it would be fair to say that for writing, inspiration can sometimes be a tricky thing. The “Eureka!” moment of a viable story idea and the discipline to write come from within. But the content that goes into the story often comes from threads of human experience. Continue reading

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How I Became a Fan of the Eurovision Song Contest

The first time I heard about the Eurovision Song Contest was in the late 1970’s when I read an article about my favourite musical group, ABBA. The article credited ABBA’s meteoric rise to international stardom to the Eurovision Song Contest and their 1974 win with the song “Waterloo”.

For this young Canadian, even though I had no idea what Eurovision was, it sounded like a big event! I knew just enough about world geography to know that if a music competition involved a whole continent, it must have been something special.

In the years that followed, and the many hours spent listening to MuchMusic, Eurovision came up a few times, whether in the “Rock News” reports or when the VJ’s (“Video Jockeys”) were presenting a video and providing some background into the song and the artist. I remained intrigued.

In 2002, I was finding myself a little bored with mainstream radio here in North America and found myself searching for other musical options. At the same time, I had changed cable packages and was introduced to “BPM TV”, a new music video channel focused on dance tunes from around the globe.

Over the course of BPM’s programming, I was introduced to the Swedish pop band Alcazar. With their very catchy pop-dance tunes, bright upbeat tempo, and amazing sense of style, glamour and showmanship, they quickly became my favourite band! They still are today!

In the process of getting to know Alcazar better through online research, the theme of Eurovision popped up again. Alcazar competed in 2003 with a song called “Not a Sinner nor a Saint”, in a competition called Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s national competition to pick a song to represent the country at Eurovision. This was where the journey began! Continue reading

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Filed under Inspiring, Misc blogs, music, pop culture, Travel, TV

When an Icon Passes

IconHow is it that we can be so deeply touched by the passing of a stranger? Someone we have never met, someone to whom we are not related, and someone with whom we did not have day-to-day dealings… yet it still hits us so hard.

I am no stranger to the effect of loved ones and colleagues passing, whether suddenly or through illness, male, female, older and younger. Each passing seems to bring its own unique spectrum of emotions and grief.

With the recent passing of icons like Prince and David Bowie one cannot help but marvel at the ripple effect of such brilliant artists, when their passing elicits such strong emotions and grief around the globe:

The universality of their message that could motivate and inspire, bypassing language and cultural boundaries.

The strength of their message that resonated with so many.

They said what we couldn’t… or before we could say it.

Their music formed the memorable songs in the soundtrack for the good times.

Their music lifted us up in the soundtrack for the bad times.

Their music helped us when Continue reading

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My (Much)Music Education

BoomboxIn late September, I had the good fortune of attending the Jann Arden concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Not only is Jann’s concert an evening of superlative music, but between songs, Jann charms the audience with her hysterically funny stories. I hope she never puts her musical career on hold, but if she ever does, she could easily have a brilliant future as a stand up comedienne!

In one of her stories, she tells of how the Columbia House Record Club was responsible for exposing her to such a diverse range of music in her formative years as a musical artist, an opportunity she might not have otherwise found growing up in rural Springbank, Alberta.

As she told the story, I could not help but draw a parallel to my own musical education which I owe almost entirely to MuchMusic (and its French-speaking sister station, MusiquePlus), back when they were “The Nation’s Music Station”, airing music videos “24 hours a day, in stereo”.

Today’s reality of YouTube, Vevo, iTunes and video on demand is a dream come true, allowing Continue reading

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