Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Death Of R&B Groups

 Earlier this month, a friend of mine (Teresa) forwarded me the following thought-provoking article. Following the article are some of my thoughts on the current state of R&B groups.

The Death Of R&B Groups by NPR Staff- August 18, 2011

Rhythm-and-blues groups ruled the airwaves in the 1990s, topping music charts and attracting devotees around the world. En Vogue, TLC, Boyz II Men, and others like them defined the music of the times.

But as the decade ended, so did the popularity of R&B groups. Today, they've largely faded from the charts. assistant editor Akoto Ofori-Atta recently wrote about this phenomenon for the news website. She tells Tell Me More guest host Tony Cox that En Vogue's recent concert in Washington, D.C., inspired her to write the article.

"When I was sitting in the audience and I was looking out there, I realized, 'Wow, this doesn't exist anymore.' There are no R&B groups that are currently on the pop charts, and there was something very nostalgic about the moment," Ofori-Atta says. "There was something even a little dated about what I was watching, so I wanted to explore further."

Why Exactly Did R&B Groups Disappear? 

Ofori-Atta says the record industry has changed, and it boils down to mathematics. She says bringing a solo artist to market is less expensive than bringing a group to market. For example, hair and makeup for Beyonce Knowles is one thing, but hair and makeup for Knowles plus Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams — members of Destiny's Child — means the cost triples.

She says the 1990s saw boy bands flourish to the extent that many considered the trend nauseating. That might have contributed to public fatigue toward music groups.

Plus, Ofori-Atta says, the advent of social media allows for individuality. Artists can directly interact with audiences on Twitter and Facebook like never before. For example, she says, it's tough to picture Boyz II Men interacting through Twitter as an entity in the same way Rihanna can.

Record labels often look for a leader before signing a group, and that leader was usually the one who broke out to pursue a solo career, Ofori-Atta says. She attributes that observation to Shanti Das, a 20-year veteran in the industry who has worked with Motown.

"I think that record labels, intentionally or unintentionally, groom the breakout star for inevitable solo success," Ofori-Atta says.

Without Groups, What Is R&B Missing? 

R&B today is missing harmony — the grand spectacle of hearing four or five people singing different parts together, Ofori-Atta says, adding that these days, people harmonize with themselves by singing multiple octaves of the same verse.

Ofori-Atta says that R&B groups will return when audiences are ready for them; they must want such groups back. She sees promising potential in Ahmir, a group that has attracted phenomenal success on YouTube.

"This is a group of very talented guys," she says. "[Their manager says] they've also had some difficulties getting signed to a major label. But the talent is there — that's not the question. ... They're just waiting their turn. They know things cycle in and out of pop music."

The article makes some excellent points, especially about the economics of promoting a solo artist vs. a group. Another factor which I feel has played a part in the disappearance of R&B groups is what I call the "American Idolization" of pop music. The phenomenally successful Fox reality competition series exclusively features solo singers making their bid for the big time. I think the success of the show (along with some of the unknowns who have competed) has caused record companies to follow suit by focusing on solo pop/R&B singers.

Although the current state of R&B groups is in dire shape, this trend can reverse itself. The NBC reality competition series The Sing-Off (which features solely a cappella groups, some of which are R&B based) returns for an expanded 3rd season on Sept. 19th. If the show is successful, it could play a role in R&B groups coming back into vogue.

Why do you think R&B groups died off after the 1990s? Do you think they will ever make a comeback?

Below is a clip of Ahmir (the R&B quartet mentioned in the article)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/26/11

 Show theme: The 60s, 70s, and 80s, with a spotlight on songs about walking and running in honor of the Crim Festival of Races (an annual event which takes place in downtown Flint)

6 pm hour: The 60s at 6

Nowhere to Run- Martha & the Vandellas
Mr. Sun Mr. Moon- Paul Revere & the Raiders
She’s About a Mover- The Sir Douglas Quintet
Tighten Up- Archie Bell & the Drells
Run Baby Run- The Newbeats
My Boyfriend’s Back- The Angels
Walking to New Orleans- Fats Domino
The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde- Georgie Fame
Run for Your Life- The Beatles
Pleasant Valley Sunday- The Monkees
Pop Pop Pop Pie- The Sherrys

The Greatest Miss of the Week:
Keep on Running- The Spencer Davis Group (only peaked at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100)

What’s New Pussycat- Tom Jones
Don’t Look Back- The Temptations
Build Me Up Buttercup- The Foundations
Twenty Miles- Chubby Checker
Walking in the Rain- The Ronettes
You Don’t Have to Walk in the Rain- The Turtles
Kind of a Drag- The Buckinghams
Grazing in the Grass- The Friends of Distinction
Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)- The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus

7 pm hour: The 70s at 7

Runnin’ with the Devil- Van Halen
Flying High- The Commodores
We Are Family- Sister Sledge
Walk This Way- Aerosmith
Walk Away from Love- David Ruffin
Coconut- Harry Nilsson
The Chain- Fleetwood Mac

On the Flip Side:
Run Through the Jungle- CCR (B-side to Up Around the Bend)

The Diary of Horace Wimp- ELO
Walking in Rhythm- The Blackbyrds
Knock on Wood- Amii Stewart
Run to Me- The Bee Gees
Walk on the Wild Side- Lou Reed
Born to Run- Bruce Springsteen
My Little Lady- Bloodstone

8 pm hour: The 80s at 8

Walk Like an Egyptian- The Bangles
Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)- Spandau Ballet
Sign O’ the Times- Prince
Run to You- Bryan Adams
The Love Parade- The Dream Academy
Walking in L.A.- Missing Persons
When I Think of You- Janet Jackson
Walk of Life- Dire Straits
Solid- Ashford & Simpson (in honor of Nick Ashford, who died on 8/22 at the age of 69)
Valley Road- Bruce Hornsby & the Range
Tempted- Squeeze
Running Up That Hill- Kate Bush
I Ran- A Flock of Seagulls

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Don't Look Back by The Temptations

Answers To Friday Funday Trivia: Child Stars

Below are the answers to this week's quiz (along with childhood shots underneath each grown up photo).  With a score of 8 1/2 points, Becky is this week's top scorer... congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who played; stay tuned for next week's Friday Funday Trivia!

1. Tina Yothers- Jennifer Keaton on Family Ties
2. Jonathan Lipnicki- Jerry Maguire
3. Keshia Knight Pulliam- Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show
4. Melissa Sue Anderson- Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie
5. Jeremy Miller- Ben Seaver on Growing Pains


6. Soleil Moon Frye- Punky Brewster
7. Luis Armand Garcia- Max Lopez on George Lopez
8. Mary Badham- Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird (you may also recognize Mary from her role as Sport in The Twilight Zone episode "The Bewitchin' Pool")
9. Danny Pintauro- Jonathan Bower on Who's the Boss
10. Ross Bagley- Nicky Banks during the last two seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


11. Rider Strong- Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World
12. Kerri Green- The Goonies
13. Tony Dow- Wally Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver
14. Danielle Spencer- Dee Thomas on What's Happening!!
15. Danny Lloyd- Danny Torrance in The Shining


Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Funday Trivia: Former Child Stars

Below are 3 montages containing grown up photos of former child stars. You have to correctly identify the child star. I'm going to be a little lenient on this quiz. If you are unable to come up with the performer's name, you can still earn half credit if you can at least identify one of their famous roles. For example, if I posted a photo of Eve Plumb and you couldn't recall her name, something along the lines of the following would be acceptable:

That's the lady who played Jan on The Brady Bunch

To enlarge the montages, click on them.

If you are a Friday Funday Trivia virgin about to be touched for the very first time, please read the following rules before playing:

* The game is pub style so looking up the answers, using friends/family for help, etc. is not allowed.

* Please do not post your answers in the comments section. Instead, send them to no later than tonight (8/26) at 11:59 PM EST. The answers will be posted on Saturday, August 27th.

Have fun, good luck and remember... never trust a big butt and a smile!




Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/19/11

Show theme: Michigan artists

6 pm hour

Mickey's Monkey- The Miracles
Someday, Someway- Marshall Crenshaw
Lust for Life- Iggy Pop
My Daddy Knows Best- The Marvelettes
Whispers (Gettin' Louder)- Jackie Wilson
Only Women Bleed- Alice Cooper
Three Times in Love- Tommy James
Talking in Your Sleep- The Romantics
Since You've Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby)- Aretha Franklin
Handy Man- Del Shannon
Kings of the Party- Brownsville Station
Plowed- Sponge
Higher Ground- Stevie Wonder
All This Love- DeBarge
Borderline- Madonna
Mystery Man- The Frost

7 pm hour

Rock Around the Clock- Bill Haley & his Comets (Haley was born in Highland Park, MI)
Breakout- Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels
Back in My Arms Again- The Supremes
Little Miss Dangerous- Ted Nugent
Rock & Roll Never Forgets- Bob Seger
Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number- Aaliyah
You Oughta Be with Me- Al Green
I Just Want to Celebrate- Rare Earth
Love's Gone Bad- The Underdogs
My Name Is- Eminem
Scorpio- Dennis Coffey & the Detroit Guitar Band
Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get- The Dramatics
Don't You Know- Della Reese
Leroy- Jack Scott
Finger Poppin' Time- Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
Feo- Diver

8 pm hour

We're An American Band- Grand Funk
Devil Gate Drive- Suzi Quatro
Turn the Page- Bob Seger
First I Look At the Purse- The Contours
The Happy Organ- Dave "Baby" Cortez
Cool Jerk- The Capitols
Baby I'm Yours- Barbara Lewis
Do Me Right- The Detroit Emeralds
96 Tears- ? & the Mysterians
Keeper of the Castle- The Four Tops
Mary Goes Round- Ready for the World
Same Old Love- Anita Baker
Step in Stride- Kid Rock
Hey Jealousy- The Gin Blossoms (lead singer Robin Wilson was born in Detroit)
Numbers- Terry Knight & the Pack
Good Girls Don't- The Knack (lead singer Doug Fieger was born in Detroit)

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: My Name Is by Eminem

Answer To Friday Funday Trivia: TV Shows Based On Movies

Below the photo montage are the answers to this week's quiz. There were several scores of 8 and 9. However, there was only one player who got all 10. With a couple of good guesses, Rich was able to get a perfect score... congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who played; stay tuned for next week's Friday Funday Trivia!

1. The Odd Couple

2. Clueless

3. Alice

4. Weird Science

5. M*A*S*H

6. Soul Food: The Series- Based on the movie starring Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, and Nia Long, this award-winning series ran on Showtime from 2000-2004.

7. Gung Ho- Based on the 1986 Ron Howard film, this ABC sitcom ran for 9 episodes during the 1986-1987 season and starred Scott Bakula as Hunt Stevenson (played by Michael Keaton in the movie). Reprising his role from the movie is Gedde Watanabe (aka "Long Duk Dong" from the film "Sixteen Candles"). You can watch the opening credits sequence below.

Best Intentionally Funny Answer of the Week goes to Celina whose response was "Scott Bakula Befriends Nerds"

8. Private Benjamin- This CBS sitcom (based on the hit 1980 movie starring Goldie Hawn) ran from 1981-1983 and featured Lorna Patterson in the title role. Also pictured are Hal Williams and Eileen Brennan (who reprised their roles from the film)

9. Clerks: The Animated Series

10. Baby Boom- Based on the 1987 film, this sitcom ran on NBC from 1988-1989 and starred Kate Jackson as J.C. Wiatt (played by Diane Keaton in the movie). Also in the cast was Joy Behar as nanny Helga Von Haupt.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Funday Trivia: TV Shows Based On Movies

Below is a montage containing cast photos of TV shows based on movies. You have to correctly identify the TV show. The top row is photos 1-5 and the bottom row is photos 6-10. To enlarge the montage, click on it.

If you are a Friday Funday Trivia virgin about to be touched for the very first time, please read the following rules before playing:

* The game is pub style so looking up the answers, using friends/family for help, etc. is not allowed.

* Please do not post your answers in the comments section. Instead, send them to no later than tonight (8/19) at 11:59 PM EST. The answers will be posted on Saturday, August 20th.

Not an official rule: If you have no clue about a photo, feel free to come up with an intentionally funny answer. Although you won't get credit for a correct answer, you'll get a thumbs up from me for originality, execution, and showmanship. What can I say, I love to be entertained and I'll take it any way I can get it!

Have fun and may the good news be yours!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/12/11

Featured artist: The Rascals

6 pm hour

Do You Feel It- The Rascals
Wooly Bully- Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
You Better Run- The Rascals
I Heard It Through the Grapevine- Gladys Knight & the Pips
I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore-The Rascals
Purple Haze- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Mustang Sally- The Rascals
Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)- The Shangri-Las
What Is the Reason-The Rascals
Day Tripper- The Beatles

Double Retro
Good Lovin’- The Rascals (recorded in 1966)
Good Lovin’- The Olympics (recorded in 1965)

I Got You (I Feel Good)- James Brown
Too Many Fish in the Sea-The Rascals
The Locomotion- Little Eva
Love Is A Beautiful Thing- The Rascals
Soulful Strut- Young-Holt Unlimited
I’ve Been Lonely Too Long- The Rascals
(I Know) I’m Losing You- The Temptations
Come On Up- The Rascals
What’s It Gonna Be- Dusty Springfield

7 pm hour

Groovin’- The Rascals
Fly Me to the Moon- Bobby Womack
A Girl Like You- The Rascals
Somebody to Love- Jefferson Airplane
Find Somebody- The Rascals
The Monkey Time- Major Lance
How Can I Be Sure- The Rascals
Wear Your Love Like Heaven- Donovan
Easy Rollin’- The Rascals
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’- Nancy Sinatra

On the Flip Side:
I’m So Happy Now- The Rascals (B-side to How Can I Be Sure)

Everyday People- Sly & the Family Stone
If You Knew- The Rascals
Mother's Little Helper- The Rolling Stones
It’s Wonderful- The Rascals
People Are Strange- The Doors
Rainy Day- The Rascals
Stoned Soul Picnic- The Fifth Dimension
A Beautiful Morning- The Rascals
Outside Chance- The Turtles

8 pm hour

People Got to Be Free- The Rascals
In the Basement- Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto
Island of Love- The Rascals
Wouldn't It Be Nice- The Beach Boys
A Ray of Hope- The Rascals
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Heaven- The Rascals
A Change Is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke
Real Thing- The Rascals
Carry Me Back- The Rascals
Happy Together- The Turtles
Ready for Love- The Rascals
Glory Glory- The Rascals
Love Me- The Rascals
Have You Ever Seen the Rain- CCR
Dream a Little Dream of Me- Mama Cass
See- The Rascals

Next week's show will be a salute to Michigan artists. The Retro Mix airs from 6-9 pm EST on WKUF-LP 94.3 FM. If you live outside the Flint area, you can hear the show by visiting the following URL and clicking on the "Listen" link at the top of the page:

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: I've Been Lonely Too Long/Come On Up by The Rascals

Answers To Friday Funday Trivia: One-Named Singers

Below the photo montage are the answers to this week's quiz. Rich was once again the top scorer, getting 9 out of 10 correct. Good job man!

Thanks to everyone who played; stay tuned for next week's Friday Funday Trivia!

1. Rihanna
2. Bono
3. Seal
4. Adele
5. RuPaul- Props to those of you who recognized him dressed as a man
6. Usher
7. Cher
8. Monica
9. Maxwell
10. Oliver- a pop singer best known for his 1969 hit "Good Morning Starshine".  No player came up with this one.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Funday Trivia: One-Named Singers

Below is a montage containing singers who use just one name professionally. You have to correctly identify the singer. The top row is photos 1-5 and the bottom row is photos 6-10. To enlarge the montage, click on it.

* No cheating to help you come up with the answers. Of course, I have no way of finding out if you cheated... or do I? Bwahahaha!!

* Please do not post your answers in the comments section. Instead, send them to no later than tonight (8/12) at 11:59 PM EST. The answers will be posted on Saturday, August 13th.

Have fun and good luck!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Answers To Friday Funday Trivia: 80s Sitcoms

Below the photo montage are the answers to this week's quiz. Although there were several good scores, only two players got a perfect score... Rich and Jon. Congratulations on knowing your 80s sitcoms! Thanks to everyone who played; stay tuned for next week's Friday Funday Trivia!

1.  The Facts of Life- 3 pts
2.  A Different World- 3 pts
3.  Mr. Belvedere-3 pts
4.  Kate & Allie- 4 pts
5.  Sledge Hammer!- 6 pts (this satire, whose lead character was a Dirty Harry-like cop, ran on ABC from 1986-1988)
6.  Alf- 3 pts
7.  Amen- 3 pts
8. Webster- 3 pts
9. Square Pegs- 4 pts
10. It Takes Two- 8 pts

This sitcom about a couple (Sam and Molly) trying to balance their careers with home life ran on ABC from 1982-1983. Although it starred veteran performers Richard Crenna, Patty Duke, and Billie Bird, the show is notable today because it featured future stars Anthony Edwards and Helen Hunt as Sam and Molly's teenaged kids Andy and Lisa. Apparently Anthony and Helen formed a familial bond while working on the show because according to, they celebrate every Thanksgiving together. Below is a clip from It Takes Two in which Lisa helps Andy get ready for his audition with the punk rock group the Scumtones!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/05/11

Show theme: The 1980s

6 pm hour

Don’t You Forget About Me- Simple Minds
C 30, C 60, C 90, Go- Bow Wow Wow
Private Joy- Prince
Everything Counts- Depeche Mode
Broken Wings- Mr. Mister
Almost Hear You Sigh- The Rolling Stones
Some Guys Have All the Luck- Rod Stewart

Family Ties segment:
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)- Michael Jackson
Centipede- Rebbie Jackson

Me, Myself & I- De La Soul
Don't Dream It's Over- Crowded House
Don’t Stop Believing- Journey
Lover Come Back- Dead or Alive
Everything I Need- Men At Work

7 pm hour

Push It- Salt ‘n’ Pepa
Paradise- New Order
Oh Yeah- Yello
Private Eyes- Hall & Oates
As Hard As It Is- Fine Young Cannibals
Brilliant Disguise- Bruce Springsteen
Cold Hearted- Paula Abdul

Common Thread segment: Musical comebacks
That Was Then, This Is Now- Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork of The Monkees
You Got It- Roy Orbison
What’s Love Got To Do With It- Tina Turner
Soldier of Love- Donny Osmond

Is This the End- New Edition
Planet Earth- Duran Duran
Grinder- Judas Priest

8 pm hour

It’s Tricky- Run DMC
Don’t Be My Enemy- Wang Chung
Square Pegs- The Waitresses
Let’s Hear It for the Boy- Deniece Williams
You’re the Inspiration- Chicago
Love Zone- Billy Ocean
Shot in the Dark- Ozzy Osbourne
She Blinded Me with Science- Thomas Dolby
I Could Be Happy- Altered Images
Talk Talk- Talk Talk
Goin’ Back to Cali- LL Cool J
Kissing a Fool- George Michael
Theme from Cheers- Gary Portnoy
Cars- Gary Numan
Big City Nights- The Scorpions

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: C 30, C 60, C 90, Go by Bow Wow Wow

Friday Funday Trivia: 80s Sitcoms

Below is a montage containing cast photos from ten 1980s sitcoms. You have to correctly identify the sitcom. The top row is photos 1-5 and the bottom row is photos 6-10. To enlarge the montage, click on it. Below the montage are the point values for each photo (40 pts total).

* Along with the Internet, the use of books, magazines, etc. to help you come up with the answers is not allowed.

* If you are the only player to get a question right, you earn 3 bonus points. The first player to submit their final answers to me will earn 2 bonus points. 

* Please do not post your answers in the comments section. Instead, send them to no later than tonight (8/5) at 11:59 PM EST. The answers will be posted on Saturday, August 6th.

Have fun and good luck!

1.  3 pts
2.  3 pts
3.  3 pts
4.  4 pts
5.  6 pts
6.  3 pts
7.  3 pts
8. 3 pts
9. 4 pts
10. 8 pts

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