Results for Broadway

interviews

James Murphy

In LCD Soundsystem's 2005 debut album, singer/producer James Murphy says he's "Losing His Edge." Well, 2 years after the project disbanded, we wondered if this is the case? Murphy has gone from punk and dance clubs…to Broadway? He's composed original music for the Broadway revival of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal. But if you're going to lose your edge, this isn't a bad way to do it…the play stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, is produced by Scott Rudin and is directed by Mike Nichols. James talks about working with such luminaries and shares a tidbit on the forthcoming Arcade Fire release.

Go to episode 414

Elisabeth Vincentelli on ABBA

ABBA Forty years ago this month, Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Fältskog took the stage at Eurovision 1974, decked out in platform shoes and sequined suits, to perform a new song called "Waterloo." ABBA would become the first Swedish act to win the song contest. And while Eurovision winners rarely stay relevant, ABBA proved a huge exception, cranking out hit after hit in the 1970s before disbanding in 1983. But their legacy is complicated, explains Elisabeth Vincentelli. By day, she's the chief drama critic for the New York Post. But by night she's an ABBA superfan who wrote a 33 1/3 book on ABBA Gold, the group's definitive best-of collection (and one of the top-selling albums in European history).

As Elisabeth reveals to Jim and Greg, there's way more to this band than just "Dancing Queen." Both Agnetha and Frida were well-known performers in Sweden before they married Benny and Björn and started ABBA (Agnetha was also an accomplisehd songwriter). Unfortunately, the two couples struggled to maintain their relationships in the limelight, leading to a downward spiral that Elisabeth likens to Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac (with less tabloid coverage). Things finally fell apart in the early '80s. But a decade later, ABBA saw a strange resurgence among punk and gay subcultures, then among mainstream crowds, thanks to the Australian dramedy Muriel's Wedding and Broadway smash Mamma Mia!. The four members have all found success on their own, but Elisabeth has a bold prediction to make… Could an ABBA reunion could be in the works?

Go to episode 438

Trey Parker and Matt Stone

It's time to "Man Up" for a visit from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They are the dynamic duo behind South Park and the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.“What are they doing on our rock and roll show?”you ask. Well, some of the greatest moments of satire (see last week's show) on South Park are musical. In fact, check out our favorites here.

Plus, you could argue the show itself is quite punk rock with it's no holds barred attitude and lo-fi animation. The show even spawned a Rick Rubin-produced album. Now we have an equally outrageous musical, The Book of Mormon. It tells the story of two Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda. It's even“bluer”than South Park, but despite this, or perhaps because of it, it's a smash hit. Trey, Matt and collaborator Robert Lopez have won a slew of Tony Awards and a record-breaking slot on the Billboard chart. So, how'd two Ween, Primus and Prog Rock fans from Colorado end up the toast of Broadway? Trey and Matt explained this and their songwriting philosophy during their visit to our studios. They were in town for the Chicago opening of the play.

Go to episode 374
specials

U2's Legacy

U2 recently debuted a song from the forthcoming Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical. Reeve Carney, the actor playing Peter Parker, performed "Boy Falls from the Sky" on Good Morning America. And the Irish rockers played their own version in concert this week. Jim and Greg couldn't help wonder how a bunch of Dublin art-punks became stadium giants and now Broadway darlings.

Jim and Greg discuss U2's unique place in music history. With 12 albums, 22 Grammys and over 150 million records sold, very few rock bands from the '70s and '80s are at their level. And they are still selling out stadiums around the world. But they didn‘t begin on such a large scale. Jim and Greg trace U2’s journey to this blockbuster point and discuss the band's different artistic phases and career highs and lows. They agree that Achtung Baby is U2's masterpiece, and can't stomach some of the righteousness and bombast of records like The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. But each has a unique favorite. Jim chooses to highlight "An Cat Dubh" from the 1980 album Boy, and Greg plays "Your Blue Room" from the 1995 Brian Eno-produced album Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1.

Go to episode 254
reviews
A Little Bit LongerA Little Bit Longer available on iTunes

Jonas Brothers A Little Bit Longer

Disney is cashing in big yet again with another group of stylish, singing kids. The Jonas Brothers' new album A Little Bit Longer sold over 500,000 albums in its first week. They're also the first group since N'SYNC to have two albums in the Billboard top ten list in the same week (the other album being their self-titled release). Greg is impressed by Disney's marketing machine, but now understands that all it takes to sell records is cute boys. He doesn't think the album is very good, calling it“mild-mannered”and“chaste.”Jim doesn‘t like it either, but isn’t sold on the chastity. He thinks that "BB Good" is seedier than it appears and is also aggravated by the group's bombastic, Broadway-inspired singing style. He gives it a Trash It. Greg doesn‘t buy into Jim’s theory about a darker Jonas Brothers subtext, but also gives the album a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 143
dijs

Jim

“Yakety-Yak”The Coasters

It's rare that Jim and Greg look to their children for critical expertise, but Jim was recently impressed by his 11-year-old daughter. While practicing for her school's Broadway revue, she noted that The Coasters' version of "Yakety-Yak" is far superior to that in Smokey Joe's Café. And indeed, she is right. Jim chooses to add the 1958 song to the Desert Island Jukebox. He explains that songwriter Jerry Leiber of the team Leiber and Stoller thought of the song as“a white kid's view of a black person's conception of white society.”Pretty heady for a doo-wop song, and perfect for desert island contemplating.

Go to episode 131
rock doctors

Peter Sagal

This week, Jim and Greg play doctor — rock doctor, that is. They‘ve decided to launch a new experiment where they help a listener in need of musical help. Let’s hope they don't get their licenses pulled. Their first patient is Chicago Public Radio colleague Peter Sagal. The Wait, Wait… Don't Tell Me! host listens to the show, but confessed to Sound Opinions that he doesn't always“get it.”Peter is a music fan, but is stuck in a bit of a rut, and has come to Drs. Kot and DeRogatis for some healing.

After their initial consultation, our hosts discover that their patient is a huge Elvis Costello fan. He also digs Tom Waits and Nick Lowe, and has ventured into newer territory with artists like Neko Case and Ben Folds. Peter also reveals that he likes "Jesus Walks," but may be the last person on the planet who hasn't gotten into Kanye West.

Greg cues in to Peter's fondness for singer/songwriters and theatricality. He also notes that much of the music Peter likes has a fairly wry, intellectual sense of humor. So, his prescription includes an introduction to the music of The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy, who was also a guest on Sound Opinions, has a literary, almost Broadway-esque style that Greg thinks might cure what ails Peter. He also suggests that Peter check out the New Pornographers, the band that features Neko Case on vocals.

Jim's first prescription caters to Peter's dark sense of humor. He recommends a dose of the new (and improved, according to Jim) Belle and Sebastian. The Scottish band was always a bit too twee for our host, but on this year's The Life Pursuit, they create a sunnier, poppier sound, though with no less dark a point of view. Jim also instructs his patient to go for it and listen to Kanye West's second album, Late Registration. He predicts Peter will appreciate the rapper/producer's compositions and innovative orchestrations.

Peter followed his doctors‘ advice for a week, and returned to let them know how he feels. He admitted that he enjoyed most of their choices. He has never been a Belle and Sebastian fan, and probably won’t become one any time soon, but he understands why Jim recommended the band. And he tells Greg that he will continue to dig deeper into the The Decemberists and The New Pornographers. But the clear cure here was Kanye West. Peter was absolutely floored by how much he loved Late Registration. He definitely understands what all the fuss is about now. Therefore, by turning their patient on to even one new artist, the doctors can consider their medical experiment a success. They've got one patient in recovery and look forward to healing some more. So, if you or anyone you know needs to consult with the rock docs, please email Sound Opinions and tell us where it hurts.

Go to episode 34
news

Music News

Jim and Greg talk about two news stories merging Broadway and the pop world. The Tony award-winning musical Book of Mormon is now also a chart success. It's the highest-charting Broadway cast album and first in the top ten since 1969, when Hair spent thirteen straight weeks at #1. On the other end of the spectrum, YouTube phenom Susan Boyle has inspired a new musical called I Dreamed a Dream. It will be a fairy tale of sorts, where the heroine gets swept away to Hollywood (and the big bad wolf is Simon Cowell).

This past weekend Bruce Springsteen lost his constant sidekick and friend, Clarence Clemons. Greg calls Clemons the first among equals in a large band of characters. His saxophone was as important to many of Springsteen's songs as the Boss's guitar. And even in later years, when sax wasn't as prominent a component, Clemons was a large presence onstage. Jim will miss that energy, though he has always been critical of his sax style. To remember Clarence Clemons our hosts listen to "Jungleland" from the 1975 album Born to Run.

Go to episode 291

Music News

"Hamilton" is making history this week, not only because it's the first hip-hop-driven Broadway musical recounting the life of our nation's original Treasury secretary, but because its album debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200. That is the highest a cast recording debut has seen since 1961. It sold 30,000 copies in its first week, so the playwright/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing something right with this peculiar pairing of history and hip-hop.

Pandora Media, the biggest name in Internet radio, stepped into the ticketing business Wednesday after buying Ticketfly, a vendor that last year sold 16 million tickets worth $500 million. Pandora is known for gathering user data for targeting, and with this new purchase, venues and promoters can target cities and markets where concerts would be most successful. With an 80 million-strong audience, the Pandora-Ticketfly partnership will pose a challenge to major Ticketfly competitor, Ticketmaster.

Feline Internet sensation Lil Bub is making a name for herself in the music industry. Coming off a performance on a track in Run the Jewels' cat-ified album, Meow the Jewels, this cool cat is striking out on her own, announcing Wednesday that she will release a debut album called Science & Magic. According to her album co-producer Matt Tobey, Bub has a vision, and the result is sure to be meow-velous.

Go to episode 516

Music News

Sad news for a number of rock fans this week. Both The White Stripes and LCD Soundsystem have announced they are closing up shop. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem suggested he'd be calling it quits (at least under that name) when he was on Sound Opinions last year. But the White Stripes announcement has come as a surprise. Greg is disappointed since Jack White's other side projects as a member of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs and producer of albums by Wanda Jackson haven't provided him the vehicle he deserves. But, as Jim notes, the adage is true: nothing gives an artist a greater boost than dying or breaking up. Albums by The White Stripes have seen a massive sales surge.

U2's Bono and the Edge have joined forces with veteran theater and film director Julie Taymor to bring Spider-Man to the Broadway stage. The early reviews are in, and they ain't pretty. From The New York Times ("sheer ineptitude") to the Los Angeles Times ("an artistic form of megalomania") to the Chicago Tribune ("incoherent"), the critical pans are far harsher than anything U2 has received on any album. And it wasn't for lack of funds. The $65 million musical production is charging fans up to $300 just for previews. Jim and Greg wonder if Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will fare any better than Capeman.

Go to episode 272

Music News

The nail has just gone in the record store coffin. The Times Square Virgin Megastore, which is the highest volume music store in America, is closing this spring. $55 million in annual revenue was not enough to keep the doors to this landmark retail outfit open. Jim and Greg agree that the Virgin store on Broadway was an institution for any music fan who visited New York City, and hope that people continue to support what record stores are still out there.

Rocker, poet, fashion designer, activist…now Bono can add columnist to that ever-growing list. The U2 frontman just published his first official column for The New York Times. It was written about music's other great ego: Frank Sinatra. Jim doesn't see why anyone would be interested in the writings of Bono, except for the fact that he is a celebrity. But Greg is a little more hopeful. He admits that Bono is not a great scribe, but thinks that if the singer sticks to what he knows– music– we may be in for some interesting stories.

Go to episode 164

Music News

In the week's most unexpected news, Prince has reconciled with Warner Music after a two-decade split. Fans may remember their public kerfuffle in 1996, when the star scrawled "SLAVE" across his face, changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbol, and otherwise acted out until the label released him from his contract. But independence wasn't quite the salvation Prince expected, and his album sales faltered. Now Prince has the promotional power of Warner Bros. back on his side. Plus, he regains control over his catalog, just in time to reissue a 30th-anniversary edition of Purple Rain. It's a shrewd business move—or, as Jim suggests, maybe a form of Stockholm syndrome.

Over the years, Sound Opinions has witnessed endless battles over pop music piracy, from the Pirate Bay to Limewire to the aforementioned Purple One. Now digital theft has spread to the theatre. Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz and other prominent Broadway writers have learned that thousands of fans are downloading their sheet music illegally, thus keeping them from thousands of royalty dollars. But instead of rushing to file copyright lawsuits (à la the RIAA and so many record labels), the composers have taken a more compassionate route, emailing downloaders one-by-one to let them know how piracy hurts them. To that, Jim and Greg cheer: "Bravissimo!"

Go to episode 439

Music News

Lyricist Gerry Goffin, whose songwriting partnership in the early 1960's with then-wife Carole King resulted in some of the biggest hits of the era, died this week at age 75. Broadway fans may have recently seen this creative and romantic relationship fall apart on stage in the musical "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." But, the songs endure, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Up on the Roof" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday," performed by The Monkees.

For more on the Brill Building era, check out Jim and Greg's interview with another famous songwriting duo, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

Go to episode 448

Music News

This week, successful solo singer Lesley Gore died from lung cancer at age 68. The "You Don't Own Me" and "It's My Party" singer was best known for her work as a teen, singing about heartbreak and female empowerment. But, while the height of her popularlity hit in the 1960's, later artists like Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett and Klaus Nomi covered her work. Gore also became very active in the LGBTQ community and was working on a Broadway show and a memoir before her death.

Go to episode 482