Category Archives: Music

All I Want for Christmas Is You: The only truly great holiday song written in the past fifty years?

I had no idea Mariah, with her long-term collaborator, wrote this song.

This article at states (about the recent not very nice criticism’s of Ms. Carey’s recent live performance):

Those pop culture Grinches who’ve been expressing shamefully unseasonal schadenfreude over Carey’s flop would do well to remember two things: 1) Mimi sings better on her worst day than 99.9 percent of all humans who’ve ever lived; 2) She is the co-author, along with longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff, of the only Christmas song written in the last half-century worthy of inclusion in the Great American Songbook.

Go Mariah!

another amazing Sam Smith cover

I listen to Whitney Houston covers with a judicious ear. The only one I think improves on the original is Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You because I think it undersells the song in a gorgeous way.

But this cover by pop crooner Sam Smith who, thus far, appears to be able to do no vocal wrong is so elegantly spare, I think it might be an improvement over the exuberant original. Maybe. Both are pop music at its best.

Confessions of a life-long Barbra lover.

One of my first musical memories is listening to Barbra Streisand with my father. He’d fallen under her spell after seeing her on Broadway in Funny Girl in 1964. We had every album she’d recorded and, even though they were my parents’ music, I kept listening to them as I grew older. I went to movies and marveled at her in Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, and What’s Up Doc. To this day, I can’t watch the last scene in The Way We Were without sobbing so hard I can barely see. (The same is true of my husband–he doesn’t cry quite as hard–which is one of the many things I love about him.)

In high school, I performed Barbra songs when I sang for an audience–I once sang both parts of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” in front of my entire school. In college, I played her albums despite the scorn her pop performances drew from my punk listening peers.

So, it was a given I’d buy Partners, her latest album. It’s an album of many of her greatest hits all sung as duets with male singers. (There’s a rumor she plans to make a similar album with all female singers.) Not all of the remakes are fabulous. But, a few are wondrous: “What Kind of Fool” with John Legend, ” Somewhere” with Josh Groban, “How Deep Is the Ocean?” with her son Jason Gould, and “People” with Stevie Wonder. Her voice is still astonishing–she hasn’t sounded this good in several years and it’s a joy to hear her work her vocal magic.


It’s all about the bass… line. The song “Sweater Weather” has a great one.

Romance writer Carrie Lofty posted this video on Facebook with the the comment “One of the best pop hooks in years.”

I had to give it a listen and I’m glad I did. Indie band The Neighbourhood was unknown to me but I’ve since then watched a few more of their videos on YouTube and I really like them.

This video also showcases one of my favorite cars of all time: A 1969 Mercedes Benz. Plus the black and white film gives it a timeless sense.


Dabney Grinnan

Lera Lynn knocks another one out into the stars

I’ve been a Lera Lynn fan since my sister Sarah first heard her perform in Athens, Georgia at a R.E.M. tribute concert in 2011. (My sister called me from the theater and said “Ben and I are listening to this amazing singer. She’s going to be big.”) I promptly looked Lera up on Google and fell hard for her. This video and this song both blew me away then and still blow me away today.

Since then, I’ve seen Lera play live four times–once at my husband’s 60th birthday party!–and she’s mesmerized the audience each time. And, as my sister predicted, she’s becoming big. Her latest coup: This article and featured video at Rolling Stone.

What do you think? Does Taylor Swift need to be worried?


Dabney Grinnan



This “Let It Go” video is a joy

The song “Let It Go” from the animated smash Frozen was written specifically for the prodigious vocal talents of Idina Menzel. And she rocks the song.

The song is so beloved that there are literally hundreds of versions of it on YouTube. Of them all, this one is my favorite. Not only does Alex Boyé get props for his ingenius Lion King-like vocal arrangement but the young girl who sings, Lexie Walker–she’s eleven–is a true songstress. (Check out her singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It made my husband cry.

I’ve watched this video about twenty times now and every time it makes me smile.

Dabney Grinnan

“Typecast is a smart, sharp parody of “Royals”

If you’ve turned on your radio anytime in the last year, you’re likely to have heard the song “Royals,” by the song recorded by a powerhouse teenager from New Zealand. The song won Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys and has spawned countless copies and parodies. This one, written, directed, and filmed by Tess Paras is funny and spot on.

“You can’t have two black friends.”

Sad but, on the big screen, almost always true.

Dabney Grinnan