CD reviews: Elton and George, gayer than ever … plus Rufus and more!

It’s the old and the new in music this week.

EJ_Std-Sleeve-PS_300dpi_rgb-(3)-smFirst the old: Sir Elton John wasn’t officially out (neither was he a “sir” yet) when he released his two-LP milestone recording Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973. Newly reissued by Mercury/UMe/Rocket in an expanded 40th anniversary deluxe edition, GYBR was the most glam album of his career to that point, a style he would continue to explore on a few more albums. “Glam” didn’t necessarily mean “gay,” but Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was also his gayest album until then. The titular reference aside (we know Elton was a Friend of Dorothy now), EJ heaped on the hints in songs such as the Marilyn Monroe memorial “Candle In The Wind,” as well as “All The Young Girls Love Alice” and the sexual ambiguity of “Bennie and the Jets.”

A source for several hit singles in addition to songs that would become instant classics, GYBR kicked off Elton’s musical reign, which would last throughout the 1970s and ’80s. The deluxe edition includes one remastered disc with all 17 songs from the original. The second disc features nine songs, “highlights” from the December 1973 Hammersmith Odeon concert. The remaining nine songs on the second disc fall under the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Revisited heading. An odd assortment of artists including Fall Out Boy, Emeli Sande, Miguel and The Band Perry, all try their hands at interpreting Sir Elton. Thankfully, someone thought to include John Grant, an openly gay artist, among the performers. As it turns out, his rendition of “Sweet Painted Lady” is the best of the cover versions.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: George Michael’s “White Light”

Nobody does autobiographical songs as well as George Michael does. He continues that here in his latest single and video “White Light.” While I’m not the biggest fan of the song, the video is downright gorgeous. He continues his supermodel trend here with Kate Moss in a starring role.

Michael gets way poignant here coming off his major bout with pneumonia that left him hospitalized. His lyrics about being so close to death are eerie, but he’s also rejoicing in making it through the ordeal. Michael paints both a bleak and uplifting picture in the song. But as I’ve said before the song is uneven just missing that signature groove that we’re used to hearing in tracks like “Fastlove” or “Precious Box.” Sometimes the words feel forced in to fit the music or they just don’t fit at all.

But as anyone will say, it’s better than the alternative. Watch “White Light” after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

LISTEN: George Michael’s “White Light”

It's been 30 years since Wham! first touched our ears.

Whoa. I almost forgot about this little dittie. While we’re still waiting on the video, George Michael released a lyric video of his latest single, “White Light.”. The single released June 29 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of his first hit with Wham! This is also following up his near-fatal bout with pneumonia where the singer underwent a tracheotomy. Yikes.

The song has a great smoothness to its beat, but the lyrics play a bit unevenly. And there is a slight different to Michael’s voice. But it’s good to see him back from such a trying illness.

Listen to the track after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Queer Music News: George Michael video stills, Mould’s new album, Lauper’s LGBT outreach

In marking the 30th anniversary of Wham’s first release “Wham Rap,” George Michael announced a new single to be released this Friday. That’s last week’s news, actually. But starting yesterday, he’s been posting stills from his upcoming video for “White Light.” The above image was released today on his website (and far better than the darker one from yesterday). From GeorgeMichael.com.

—  Rich Lopez

LISTEN: Top 10 Christmas songs by LGBT artists

Yes, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole will likely make appearances today singing their famous Christmas tunes, but queer artists have their signature contributions as well. I mean, Fred Schneider’s ridiculous humor may not compare with traditional carols, but he proves we need a little disco year round. And Pink Martini can croon just like the best of them.

Here’s a rundown of my top queer Christmas tunes for the day to add your to mix. Bing and Nat won’t mind the company.

10.  The Superions — “Christmas Disco” This album is a pure exercise in the absurd, but Fred Schneider’s side project turns the reverent holiday into a flat out house party.

—  Rich Lopez

Singer George Michael in press conference today: “I’m incredibly fortunate to be here.”

Singer George Michael held a press conference today speaking about recovering from his bout with pneumonia. After a month-long stay in a Vienna hosptial, he held this conference back at his London home. In the video, he discusses quickly his condition, apologizes to fans and chokes up a bit when thanking his doctors for saving his life. Michael looked a bit gaunt and tired, but sounded like he’s fully intent on returning to the road to make up for the concerts he had to cancel.

Watch his statement after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Christian group calls to pray for George Michael’s death

I blogged Monday in Queer Music News that singer George Michael has been hospitalized in Austria due to pneumonia. In that post, I added that Fox News reported there is speculation that his illness is much more severe than being let on. This appears to have spawned the group Christians for a Moral America to action and have called for the singer’s demise.

Huffington Post’s Gay Voices posted tweets by Kyle (@GodsWordIsLaw) from Nov. 26 about their intentions. His profile cites @CFAMABlog as the group’s official feed. From HuffingtonPost.com:

After the Daily Mail reported that Michael’s family and long-time partner Fadi Fawaz had gathered at his bedside in Vienna, Christians For A Moral America took to Twitter, claiming the singer “has AIDS” and calling for followers to pray for the his demise in light of his “satanic lifestyle.”

Read their Twitter posts after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Queer Music News: Big Freedia’s new vid, George Michael hospitalized, new album by Lambert

Spinner posted this new video by rapper Big Freedia. He told the site, “I recorded the song in response to all the people getting mad at my success. You watch that video, feel that beat and see those dancers coming hard, and I’m like ‘Na Who Mad’?” I love seeing the fringe rapper grow his profile and the video is hella fun, even with the ladies dry humping the street. Yaka yaka yaka.

The song is from the his upcoming mixtape, God Save the Queen Diva. You can download this track for free though by clicking here.

Read more Queer Music News after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Brewing: Fatal gay-bashing in Iowa; McInerney’s defense rests; Goss-Michael split

Marcellus Andrews

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A 19-year-old college student was beaten to death in an apparent anti-gay hate crime in Waterloo, Iowa, early Friday. Marcellus Richard Andrews was sitting on a friend’s porch when a group of people who apparently knew him rode up in a pickup truck and began taunting him with anti-gay slurs. A fight broke out, and after being kicked in the head at least once, Andrews was left unconscious with severe head injuries. He was pronounced dead at a hospital more than two days later. Police are still looking for the suspects and have not yet classified the incident as a hate crime.

2. The defense rested Monday in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney without calling him to the witness stand. McInerney, 17, is being tried as an adult on charges of murder and a hate crime for the fatal 2008 shooting of 15-year-old gay student Lawrence King in Oxnard, Calif. The defense is hoping McInerney will be convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. The prosecution is now presenting its rebuttal case, and closing arguments could be heard by the end of this week, which is the seventh of the trial.

3. Pop singer George Michael and his Dallas-based partner, Kenny Goss, have split up. Well, actually Michael says they haven’t really been together for 2 ½ years, even though they’ve led the media to believe otherwise. Michael came clean about it all during a performance Monday in Prague, when he also dedicated a song to Goss. Read about it here and watch the video below.

—  John Wright

Queer Music News: George Michael to go way gay on new album, but with whom?

The word is out that our favorite former sometimes-Dallasite George Michael is working on an album collaborating with a specific group of musicians. NME reported that “The singer, who is due to tour the UK in the winter with a 41 piece symphonic orchestra, had previously revealed that his next studio album would be made with a collective of gay artists, in an effort to ‘correct the damage’ his recent behavior had caused in ‘letting young gay kids down.’”

Now I’m a fan of Michael, but you know, I was let down too by his behavior and I KNOW his music. Our 19 year-old intern didn’t know much about Michael post-Faith. Come on, George. Us older fans want some of your attention, too.

ANYWAY, with his new vow to work with “either gay or gay friendly artists – possibly unknown ones,” I wondered who would be a good match. Minus bigger queer stars, I went from mid-range down:

  • Uh Huh Her — Sort of like the Pet Shop Boys of the lesbian crowd, this duo has cool pop chops and bring their own brand of sexy to match Michael’s. Vocally, he’d probably own them, but altogether, I’d predict a hit.
  • Big Freedia — I’m not sure if Michael could handle Freedia’s big booty bounce, but it would be fun to see him try to keep up. Michael may be the veteran, but Freedia would shine more.
  • Adam Lambert — This might be an easy call, but I think these two could be phenomenal together. There are enough similarities and differences and each would boost each other to different levels. Lambert’s big but still not huge so I think he’d fit in fine.
  • Diamond Rings — I think Michael could win with Diamond Rings writing his songs. It would bring him to an edgier level. Michael could use that without going overboard and Diamond Rings would know how to do that.
  • Sia — As much as I’d want to say yes to this, I think any collab between them would be a little odd. He’s too polished, she’s too eclectic, but vocally, they could be nice together.

That’s just what I think. Who would you pick?

—  Rich Lopez