Monday, June 12, 2017

Pride Month: song facts about popular songs

SIDE TO SIDE by ARIANA GRANDE (featuring NICKI MINAJ )

This finds Grande in a relationship with a bad boy despite the warnings from her friends. It appears they have had so much sex, Grande can't walk straight - he's got her "walkin' side to side."

This island-sounding jam features a verse by Nicki Minaj, marking the third time the two superstars have collaborated on a song. The pair previously appeared on Jessie J's 2014 track "Bang Bang" and The Pinkprint's "Get on Your Knees."

The reggae pop song's dancehall riddim was supplied by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin and his co-writing and production partner Ilya Salmanzadeh. Martin and Ilya produced as a pair four of Dangerous Woman's eleven tracks and also separately worked on another one each.

Two other hitmakers, Savan Kotecha and Alexander Kronlund, are also credited as writers along with Grande and Minaj.

The video finds Ariana Grande spinning, boxing and weightlifting in the gym clad in a combination of spandex and casual threads from GUESS's "Active" women's line. She's later joined by Nicki Minaj for a post-workout session in an electric blue sauna.

The clip was directed by Hannah Lux Davis, who has filmed a number of videos for the pair. She shot Grande's "Focus" and "Into You," as well as Minaj's "Only" and " The Night Is Still Young" visuals. They also all worked together on the trio's collaboration with Jessie J, "Bang Bang."

The lyrics detail the painful downside of having an overly active sex life. "That whole song is about riding leading to soreness," Grande confessed to MTV News. "'Ride dick bicycle' is the lyric, indeed."

Grande is referring to Minaj's line where she sings:

Wrist icicle
Ride dick bicycle
Come true yo
Get you this type of blow

Minaj covers the bridge of this song with two distinct sections, one sung ("This is the new style, with the fresh type of flow"), one rapped ("All these bitches flows is my mini-me"). She also appears at the beginning of the song namechecking Grande, then at the end where both singers close out the song together, with Minaj repeating her sung section from the bridge.

The song opens with the chorus, which shows up four times in the song, but with different elements in each repetition. Each chorus builds in intensity, with more backing vocals added for each progression.

Musically, the track never gets very dense, which pushes the vocals out front. There are lots of different instruments and vocal tracks in the mix, but they are constantly coming in and out. Listen for hand claps, finger snaps, synth stabs, a woodblock, and even a saxophone.

MILLION REASONS by LADY GAGA

Lady Gaga sings on this country-flavored power ballad of her determination to stay in a relationship that appears to have run its course. She penned the heartbreaking song with Nashville songwriter Hillary Lindsey, who also worked with her for two other songs on Joanne. Lindsey is probably best known for the many hit tunes she's co-penned for Carrie Underwood, as well as Little Big Town's "Girl Crush."

A Rhinestone-clad Lady Gaga performed the song live for the first time on October 5, 2016, when she kicked off her Dive Bar Tour in the US at Nashville's 5 Spot. Hillary Lindsay shared the microphone on harmonies. When Gaga introduced the tune she told the crown in a country accent:

"I wrote this song with a Nashville native, Hillary Lindsey. We sat on a couch together, and we were going back and forth, guitar and piano, and we were going, 'Why these men, you know?' All these men - my dad, my boyfriend, all the men in my life - they gave me a million reasons [to leave], but I just need one good one to stick around but you're giving me a million to walk away. Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary Lindsey."

Gaga performed this song on the October 24, 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live with Hillary Lindsey accompanying her on acoustic guitar.

The lyrics were rumored to be about Gaga's breakup with her former fiancé Taylor Kinney, but the singer told Howard Stern they were written about all the men in her life, including Kinney, her father and every other guy she's had a relationship with. "It's never just about the guy," she said. "It's always about that guy, the guy before him."

The song was also written for women all over the world. "How cool is it that it was #1 in Saudi Arabia?... I just really want women to be heard," Gaga said. "I've dated a lot of cowboys and I just really want women to be heard... Not in a way that 'men are bad,' but I think it's time for us to heal from those wounds that divide us. In this country we are so divided. I just hope this album provides some healing."

Lady Gaga performed the song at the UK's Royal Variety Performance in front of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on December 6, 2016.

Gaga sang this during her halftime performance at the 2017 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. "We're here to make you feel good," she told the crowd before starting the song. She managed to say hi to her mom and dad in the middle of the song.

The song originally dropped out of the Hot 100 after peaking at #52. However, it got a post-Super Bowl bump, sending it back to the chart, all the way to #4. This is one of the million reasons Super Bowl acts play for free.

HOLD UP by BEYONCÉ

Lemonade is a concept album, where Beyoncé recounts a story of discovering and wrestling with her husband's infidelity. This is the second track, by which stage her suspicions have been aroused.

On this kiss-off, Beyoncé attests that no-one loves her husband like she does, so it would be unwise for Jay-Z to cheat on her.

Hold up, they don't love you like I love you
Slow down, they don't love you like I love you
Back up, they don't love you like I love you
Step down, they don't love you like I love you

The song was produced by Diplo of Major Lazer and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. It was Koenig's first credit on a Beyoncé song.

In 2011, Diplo produced " End of Time" on Beyoncé's 4 while her single "Run the World (Girls)" sampled Major Lazer's "Pon de Floor." Diplo also co-produced the Lemonade track "All Night."

The track includes interpolations from Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On" ("I hop up out the bed, turn my swag on") and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps." It also samples the instrumental intro to Andy Williams's "Can't Get Used to Losing You."

Instead of directly sampling "Maps" chorus which goes, "Wait, they don't love you like I love you," Beyoncé alternately sings, "Hold up, they don't love you like I love you." It was Ezra Koenig who first thought of the change, tweeting the revised line on October 21, 2011.

Three years later, Keoenig was in a studio with Diplo, where they were working on a "Can't Get Used to Losing You" loop. Koenig wrote some lyrics based off his old tweet to go with it, which he intended to release as a Vampire Weekend song. Someone, however convinced him to send it to Beyoncé. Koenig said. "Beyoncé 100% made it her own, and I'm very glad to have been a part of it."

Psychedelic rock singer-songwriter Father John Misty (once of Fleet Foxes) wrote the first verse and refrain. Producer/composer Emile Haynie (Eminem, Kanye West, Ice Cube), singer-songwriter MNEK (of "Never Forget You" fame) producer Onye Anyanwu and Brooklyn multimedia artist Melo-X also have writing credits.

Father John Misty recalled how Beyoncé came to record his demo:

"About a year and half ago, my friend Emile Haynie played Beyoncé some of my music, along with some tunes I've written for other people, back when she was looking for collaborators for the record…Pretty soon after they sent along the demo for 'Hold Up', which was just like a minute of the sample and the hook. I'm pretty sure they were just looking for lyrics, but I went crazy and recorded a verse melody and refrain too…

I was mostly kind of in the dark, my involvement with the record kind of ends with me just sending off the demo, it wasn't until she came to my Coachella set in 2015 and told me personally it had made the record that I really had anything concrete with which to convince my friends that I hadn't actually gone insane."

Speaking to Under The Radar, Misty revealed that the best moment of 2015 was when he caught Beyoncé dancing to his set at Coachella. "The low point has been everything since," he added.

Co-writer Melo-X also sang backup vocals. He recalled to Pitchfork: "I kind of put a bunch of ideas down. A bunch of harmonies, a bunch of different layers, and she kept a lot of that in. In the second chorus you can hear my vocals under hers coming in. It's cool that she kept that. I was just putting that there to create a vibe. I had like in my mind, I was thinking of Bob Marley and his backup singers, he had his wife, and how they would harmonize to a lot things that he did. So I took to that approach with the background vocals that I did."

The video shows Beyoncé gleefully smashing car windows and police surveillance cameras with a baseball bat all while maniacally asking: "What's worse, looking jealous or crazy?" The visual sequence draws heavily on Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist's 1997 installation "Everything Is Over All."

Father John Misty commented that it finds it unbelievable, "when you consider how ridiculous my voice sounds on the demo," that his lyrics ended up "right between picking up the baseball bat and decapitating the fire hydrant."

Asked by HMV.com how his contribution to the song came about, MNEK replied: "My publisher Jon Platt introduced us. She liked what I did and used it and sounded amazing doing it. I was a massive fan of Beyonce growing up so it was an absolute honor."

This won the award for Best Female Video at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. It was one of eight wins for Beyoncé that night.

MNEK is one of 15 credited songwriters. He told BBC the track is essentially a Frankenstein's Monster, stitched together from dozens of demos.

"She played me the chorus," he said. "Then I came back here [to my studio] and recorded all the ideas I had for the song. Beyoncé snipped out the pieces she really liked and the end result was this really great, complete song."

KISS IT BETTER by RIHANNA

Rihanna is addressing a former lover on this R&B power ballad, telling him to stop being so stubborn and just take her back. She knows that like her, he's been hurt by their breakup, so she urges him to swallow his pride and "kiss it better." The song was first previewed in December 2014 on Rihanna's Instagram page.

Rihanna wrote the song with:

American songwriter and producer Jeff Bhasker who has won Grammy Awards for the songs "Run This Town" by Jay-Z, "All of the Lights" by Kanye West, and "We Are Young" by Fun. His other credits include co-writing and co-producing Mark Ronson's smash hit, "Uptown Funk."

British singer-songwriter and actress Teddy Sinclair (real name Natalia Cappuccini), who started her recording career under the name of Verbalicious and released her debut single "Don't Play Nice" in March 2005. The song charted at #11 in the UK singles chart but her then record label later filed for bankruptcy and little was heard from her for a few years. Cappuccini then adopted the stage name Natalia Kills from the interjection "you killed it!", after her record company advised her that her legal name was "indescribable." She released two albums under that name, before reverting to Teddy Sinclair in 2015.

American vocal producer Thaddis "Kuk" Harrell who was a member of a songwriting–production team comprised of himself, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. Harrell was the vocal producer and co-writer of Rihanna's Grammy-winning single "Umbrella" and earned another Grammy for the vocal production of Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)". His other credits include being a composer and engineer on Beyoncé's chart topping "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)."

Producer/songwriter Glass John, whose other credits include Chris Brown's 2013 single "Home." John caused a stir at the end of 2015 when he took to Twitter on an extended rant about the delay in completing Anti and how Rihanna's alleged boyfriend Travi$ Scott was sabotaging the LP.

John then went on to claim that "Kiss It Better" was supposed to be the album's lead single, tweeting, "ME AND MY WIFE (meaning Rihanna) WENT IN THE STUDIO W/ CLASSIC HIT MAKER @JEFFBHASKER TO CREATW A CLASSIC ANTHEM. And f--king Travis prevented it from being her first $ingle and launching her album last year."

Rihanna was scheduled to perform this song at the Grammy Awards in 2016, but she had to cancel after coming down with bronchitis.

The sultry black-and-white music video was directed by British fashion photographer Craig McDean. It features Rihanna moving around and rolling about in various stages of undress. The singer is literally the only thing in the frame throughout the clip.

McDean, who had previously shot Rihanna for magazines such as T and Vogue, told The Fader that he filmed the video in Los Angeles over a "very long night." McDean added that the inspiration for the clip was based on ideas which were inspired by dadaism and surrealism. "It all comes from you as a person, your inner inspiration and ideas you've had inside for a lifetime," he said.

McDean also spoke about the prominent use of dice that he and creative partner Masha Vayukova incorporated into the video: "Me and Masha watch the same kind of films, we look at a lot of books and art and it all merges together on the set, which is a great playground for visual experiments," he said. "Sometimes it's all about combining things that might not make any sense, [like] subconsciousness and dreams. Dice is such a graphic and surrealistic object so it came into play."

Rihanna recorded the song at Jungle City Studios, New York City and enlisted Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt to play guitar on the track.

MAKE ME by BRITNEY SPEARS

The first single from Britney Spears' ninth studio album finds the songstress with one thing on her mind. Sparks are flying between Spears and her lover and when they go back to her room she coos they will "ignite in the heat of the moment."

The song features some rhymes from rapper G-Eazy. He recalled to KIIS FM in the US. "I got the call when I was in Australia on tour, and they were like, 'Yo, Britney Spears wants you on her single'. I'm like, 'Stop playing.'"

He added: "I got the email and I listened to it and I was like, 'S--t - it's a big record'. So I knocked it out that night."

Spears wrote the song with British singer-songwriter Joe Janiak, who also penned the original version of Ellie Goulding's single "Beating Heart."

The sensual, R&B-infused production was supplied by an English DJ called Burns, whose single "Lies" peaked at #32 on the UK Singles Chart in 2012.

How did Britney first team up with G-Eazy? She explained to Ryan Seacrest: "I worked with an amazing A&R girl, Karen. She got me together with a lot of people - Julia Michaels, a lot of the new up and coming artists. It was her idea - she's very gifted at knowing what sounds good."

The song's music video is a video about the making of the video. (Bear with us). As the sultry slow jam plays, Britney and some friends audition some hot guys for her music clip. Unfortunately, G-Eazy doesn't get to cast for the singer; he's just there on a video screen. The clip was directed by Randee St. Nicholas, who also shot Britney's "Piece Of Me" promo photos.

The video was originally directed by David LaChapelle, who previously shot the clip for Spears' 2004 single "Everytime." Apparently his effort was scrapped by Spears and her team in favour of a less racy concept.

Britney Spears explained the album title to Radio.com: "I decided to call the album Glory because my son was with me through a lot of the process of recording, and he saw me coming home every night and he'd play the songs, and it was his idea," she said. "He just randomly came up with it. It was kind of cool."

Burns recorded the original song in a friend's kitchen back in 2015. After it got picked up by Spears' people, he hit the studio with her for a couple of days to record the vocals. "You think that there might be this diva-ish personality with somebody of that level," he told Billboard magazine of his time spent with the singer, "but she was just so normal, it's crazy."

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