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Tag: Happy Birthday! (11-20 of 23)

Happy Birthday, Cyndi Lauper! You are 57 years awesome

Cyndi-LauperImage Credit: Donna Ward/Getty ImagesShe talks like a cross between a drunk smurf and Tony Soprano. She once called Donald Trump a hypocritical fatty on network television. She is an outspoken, money-where-her-mouth-is supporter of gay and lesbian rights. She put out a pretty solid dance album just two years ago, and unleashes her eleventh, a collection of traditional blues songs, today. She was Gaga-looney before Gaga was even a twinkle. And of course: She bops.

Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper, we salute you. Happy 57th! Now tell us a story, while John Oates and his mustache look on: READ FULL STORY

Happy birthday Bob Dylan! The bard turns 69 today

bob-dylanImage Credit: Danny ClinchI’m still not entirely sure how many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man. But I do know how many years ago Bob Dylan was born. 69! Yes, it’s Mr. Zimmerman‘s birthday. Feel free to mark the occasion by reinterpreting the “Happy Birthday to You” song in a manner that renders it totally unrecognizable. It’s what Bob would want! (Alternatively, you can check out the great clip of “Like a Rolling Stone” that I’ve posted after the jump.) READ FULL STORY

The Clash's 'London Calling' turns 30: is it the best album of all time?

It was on this date, 30 years ago, that the Clash’s London Calling was first released in the U.S. Three decades on, it remains an indisputable masterpiece. After all, the British band’s third (and best) album is a time capsule pinpointing the exact moment when punk rock grew up. While other bands like the Sex Pistols captured the f-you rebellion and catharsis of punk, the Clash on London Calling aimed higher. Anything was possible when they stepped inside the studio with producer Guy Stevens. The band fearlessly experimented with ska, reggae, and rockabilly beats. And Strummer’s lyrics took on a new political urgency. London Calling was proof that what some regarded as a gutter genre could be sophisticated and smart. In short, that it could be art. With classic tracks like “Spanish Bombs,” “Lost in the Supermarket,” “Clampdown,” “Train in Vain,” “Guns of Brixton,” and, of course, the call-to-arms title song, London Calling was a vinyl-pressed molotov cocktail. In fact, in 2004, we here at EW named it “The Best Album of All Time.” Check out the case we made five years ago here, then let us know if you agree.

Happy 50th Birthday, Michael Stipe! The R.E.M. frontman celebrates the half-century mark

Life (or should we say, its Rich Pageant) made an internationally recognized rock star out of a scrappy little military brat born January 4, 1960, in Decatur, Georgia; today, it also makes him one of the first of 2010 to celebrate his semi-centennial.

To follow this year: Bono (May 10), Chuck D (August 1), Aimee Mann (Sept. 8), Husker Du’s Bob Mould (Oct. 16) and the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg (Dec. 31). Also? Sean Penn, Hugh Grant, Jean Claud Van Damme and Jennifer Grey (nobody puts Baby in the AARP!)

Now 27 years into a career that began with R.E.M.’s college-rock watermark Murmur in 1983, Stipe has been an activist, a multi-Grammy winner, a misplacer of religion, a maestro of Mary Kay, and, as of 2007, an official Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Watch him and the band performing “Moon River” and “Pretty Persuasion” on England’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1984. Youth! Hair! Wonderment! Mr. Stipe, we salute you:

Happy Birthday, Britney! Why we're still addicted to you when we know that you're ... 28

It’s amazing to think the Princess of Pop, who has been with us for so long, is only just entering her late twenties. I remember when she debuted in 1998 with “…Baby One More Time,” I was a 13-year-old boy allegedly into rock music, but when my younger sister bought the album and I heard “(You Drive Me) Crazy” for the first time, my facade crumbled.

Who could deny the cowbell rhythm and delirious chorus of that song in good conscience? And—late ’90s nostalgia bonus!—the video features a very young, adorable Adrian Grenier and with Sabrina the Teenage Witch, err, Clarissa, err, Melissa Joan Hart.

In the decade since then, Britters has fulfilled a lot of roles—naughty Catholic schoolgirl fantasy, Justin’s partner in dynamic denim, great dancer, one-minute wife to a high school friend, wife-ier wife to a goofball, shaved-head meltdown case, lazy dancer, two-time mother, Slave 4 us—but no matter what she does, we still pay attention to her.

I could never understand using the word “comeback” with Britney (which has been thrown around many times), because when her every move is news for over a decade, what’s there to come back from? READ FULL STORY

Bruce Springsteen: Happy 60th birthday!

Today Bruce Springsteen turns 60. I think the man deserves a word or two of birthday gratitude, so here goes: Thanks, Boss. Thanks for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River and Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A. and all the other classic albums too numerous to list here. Thanks for that part at the end of “We Are the World” where you trade lines with Stevie Wonder. Thanks for the best minute of High Fidelity. Most of all, thanks for not giving up — for continuing to make vital music, rock out on stage, and speak out for your principles well after you passed the half-century mark.

I grew up knowing Springsteen’s hits as well as any child of the ’80s, and I remained a casual-to-moderate fan throughout the ’90s, but it was only in college that my girlfriend, a true devotee, helped induct me fully into the Cult of Brooooooce. Lucky for me, that was right when he was hitting his stride with the reunited E Street Band. If Springsteen had retired for good by that point, I would have been stuck combing through his amazing catalog of decades-old material. (Not the worst fate in the world by a long shot.) Instead, he was out there as a middle-aged guy doing some of the best work of his career. I’m happy to say he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon now that he’s hit 60.

Next week, I’ll be seeing Springsteen and the E Street Band live in concert yet again, an experience that never gets old, even if the band’s individual members might. Anyone else planning to attend this tour? ‘Til then, join me in sharing your birthday wishes for Bruce Springsteen in the comments below.

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Bruce Springsteen to play full Born to Run album in concert
Michael Jackson’s new song and album release
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced: Kiss, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LL Cool J…
Jay-Z tops the albums chart again

Photo credit: Tony Nelson/Retna Ltd

Rick Springfield: Happy 60th birthday!

Rick Springfield has proven himself a man of so many talents since arriving on this planet 60 years ago today in Sydney, Australia. Soft-rock hit-maker, swoon-worthy soap star, racy pay-cable guest — is there anything Rick can’t do?

Enjoy several of Springfield’s skills at once in the clip for 1982’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” below, wherein he fully inhabits the role of a creepy stalker who is also a cheesetastic rock’n’roller. Then speak up: What’s your favorite Rick Springfield tune? (And don’t say “Born to Run” or something. That would just be rude, especially on his birthday.)

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The Cribs: The Music Mix recommends!
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David Gray: A Music Mix Q&A

Dean and Britta pay tribute to Andy Warhol in Prospect Park

How’s this for a birthday celebration on a summer’s eve? This past Saturday, indie-rock stalwart Dean Wareham popped the cork on his 46th in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with wife Britta Phillips — as well as Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper, Nico, and Edie Sedgwick. In truth, Lou & Co. appeared in celluloid form, projected on a screen while Dean & Britta performed their songs for the multimedia project 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

A brainchild of the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, 13 Most Beautiful (available as a DVD) gathers a baker’s dozen among some 500 black-and-white films shot by Warhol between 1964 and 1966. For his subjects, the Pop-art maestro recruited both luminaries (Susan Sontag, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg) and unknowns from his Factory acolytes and hangers-on, asking them to sit still and unblinking in front of a tripod-mounted camera for as long as possible. Warhol went on to screen some of the four-minute films as part of his groundbreaking multimedia performance tour de force The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, accompanied by music from the Velvet Underground and Nico. Fittingly, the Warhol Museum invoked the Inevitable by commissioning Wareham and Phillips, veterans of the VU-influenced Luna and seasoned soundtrack composers to boot (The Squid and the Whale), to score the hour-long film compilation.

Equally fitting, the evening in Prospect Park kicked off with Brooklyn’s own torch-bearers of throwback psychedelia, Crystal Stilts. Fronted by Brad Hargett — whose vocals recalled Morrissey as his shades and mop of curls all but screamed “young Lou Reed” — the quintet barreled through a pummeling (if sometimes ragged) set of surf-guitar-powered garage punk, goosed by feverish keyboard riffs. The Stilts may not have roused the Prospect Park crowd, perhaps becalmed by the midsummer swelter, but their retro-tinged stylings served as an apt warm-up for Dean and Britta’s evocation of Andy Warhol’s 1960s.

In contrast to Crystal Stilts’ bare-bones ferocity, Dean and Britta launched their set and the film series in understated fashion with the “Richard Rheem Theme,” a discofied electro composition as sleek as the coolly handsome Rheem, a wealthy Warhol hanger-on, himself. Things moved into high gear, however, with “Teenage Lightning (and Lonely Highways,” D&B’s jangly guitar-pop evocation of the equally handsome Paul Johnson, a speed-freak hustler and sometime Edie Sedgwick BF who practically commanded the camera with scowling bravado. (It bears mentioning that Johnson, who was struck by a car in 1982, was one of four screen testees in 13 Most Beautiful who came to an untimely end.) As for the Factory Girl herself, her slightly stunned onscreen affect (she was recuperating from a car crash at the time) juxtaposed hauntingly with the swooshing synthesizer flourishes of “It Don’t Rain in Beverly Hills.” Equally arresting: a tweedy pre-Easy Rider Dennis Hopper, nodding and laughing over a blues-rock instrumental; and future cult-film queen Mary Woronov, as severely beautiful as Rock ‘n’ Roll High School‘s Miss Togar yet with a glint of wry amusement.

Notwithstanding Dean and Britta’s precisely tailored compositions, their most memorable musical selections were two covers: For Nico, Britta’s folk-rock rendering of Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” offered a honeyed counterpoint to the German chanteuse’s almost-robotic version (not to mention Nico’s fidgety, restless screen presence). And as Lou Reed in sunglasses nonchalantly chugged a Coke on screen, Dean shed his vocal reserve to growl out the great, obscure VU raver “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore.”

After that live-wire moment came a capper of devil-may-care insouciance – a radiant Baby Jane Holzer brushing her teeth and smiling, to the strains of “Knives From Bavaria,” Dean and Britta’s drolly whimsical song of romantic obsession from 2003’s L’Avventura. To wrap up and send parkgoers into the humid night, Dean reached back even further into his musical catalog – to the rousing Galaxie 500 chestnut “Fourth of July.” A month late, perhaps, but it worked.

So, Music Mix-ers, who among you trekked to Prospect Park this weekend? And what did you think of 13 Most Beautiful: a poignant if slightly faded curio from a bygone era of glamorous excess, or a salient harbinger of today’s metastasizing celebrity culture from an artist ahead of his time? Should the Warhol Museum pull out the Dylan and Sontag screen tests and enlist Dean and Britta to pen a new soundtrack? And just to go out on a limb here, do Dean and Britta rate inclusion in an gallery of the Hottest Duos in Rock?

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Newport Folk Festival turns 50: The ultimate playlist

2009 is a big year for historic music festival anniversaries. There’s Woodstock, of course, coming up on the big 4-0 this summer. The Essence Music Festival celebrated its 15th year a few weeks back. And then there’s the Newport Folk Festival, which first gathered the finest talents from the booming folk music scene in a Rhode Island park back in 1959. Popular consciousness of the festival’s history often begins and ends with Bob Dylan’s controversial electric set in 1965, but that’s far from the only memorable moment Newport has witnessed through the decades.

The line-up for Folk Festival 50, which is taking place in Newport this weekend, is pretty amazing even aside from the anniversary angle. You’ve got everyone from 90-year-old Pete Seeger, who helped organize the original festival in ’59, to seasoned veterans like Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie, all rubbing shoulders with hip young folkies like Fleet Foxes and Iron & Wine. I wish I could be there, but I can’t — so I’ve consoled myself by putting together a playlist featuring the best artists who’ll be performing tonight and tomorrow. Hear the first song below, then click through to the jump for the rest.

Are any of you lucky enough to be heading to Newport this year? Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments!

Joan Baez, “Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word”
Dylan famously penned this song while he and Baez were dating, then never got around to releasing it himself. Fair enough: Great though he is, there’s no way Bob (or anyone else) could have imbued his own words with the emotional nuance that Baez delivers here.


Prince's 'Purple Rain': 25th anniversary today

Prince_rain_l It's been pouring in New York City all week, Music Mixers, which must be the weather gods' way of honoring a most remarkable day in music history: Today is the 25th anniversary of Prince's ultimate achievement — the album we dubbed the best of the last 25 years, no less — Purple Rain. He never meant 2 cause u any sorrow. He never meant 2 cause u any pain. He only wanted 1 time to see u laughing. He only wanted 2 see u laughing in that violet precipitation, dammit!

But you tell us, readers. What are your best memories of Purple Rain? The first time you saw the movie, heard the Doves Cry, realized He Would Die 4 U? Did you ever know a more Darling Nikki? Tell it all, below. Cuz honey, I know I know times are changing, that it's time we reach out for something new, but the Purple One is forever, and respect must be paid.

More on Prince:
Purplish Rain: Twilight Singers, Apollonia, Of Montreal, more pay tribute to Prince
Why Purple Rain was our No. 1 New Classic Album
Elixer/LOtUSFLOW3R/MPLSoUND: The EW review
Prince, Prince, Prince: On the scene for his three-show night in L.A.
Prince's Oscar night house party: Funkin' 'til dawn

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