Author Archives: humanizingthevacuum

Ranking Burt Bacharach’s biggest American hits

Other singer-songwriters will get the kudos, but Burt Bacharach’s chord changes and melodies, fashionable in the sixties and associated with Adult Pop ever after, rank with if not surpass the best. Few singers and songwriters were better paired than Dionne Warwick and Bacharach, respectively. A shame his and Elvis Costello’s “Toledo” or “I Still Have the Other Girl” didn’t go top ten around the world.

The Hague Continue reading

Ranking Diane Warren’s thirty biggest hits

“Un-Break My Heart” commands so much consensus because the first word in the title, feeble metaphor as it is, is the most creative figure to emerge from Diane Warren’s pen. She looks like a charming person, unfazed by her millions. But she has toiled away writing crap dependent on a performer’s spritz; she is the closest to a Hollywood screenwriter from the 1930s extant without the instinct to honor the performers who might recite your scripts with a one-liner or three. So I tried my best using this list Continue reading

Another allegation against Brett Kavanaugh

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings almost exactly year ago belong among the more sordid affairs of my life, and it hurts to recall how our two political parties responded. Worse still was watching the real-time devolution of the sleazes who sided with Kavanaugh; their  dismissals of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony went from “Well, I believe her, but Kavanaugh didn’t do it” and “She’s lying” to “Well, so what? Guys did this all the time. Suck it up.”

Now the New York Times’ Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, in anticipation of their book about the Supreme Court justice, have dropped another revelation, this one about Deborah Ramirez, whose claims were’t even followed up on by the FBI:

But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

As of this morning, the NYT has not placed this story on its main page. The NYT, I should note, has not promoted story on its home page. The NYT, I should note, originally promoted this story on social media using this Tweet. “Ford kept her composure as she explained why her life was ruined; Kavanaugh lost his when the possibility briefly arose that he may not join the Supreme Court,” I wrote at the time. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. I sense that the Democratic Party’s leaders assume opposition to Kavanaugh last fall went too far; organizing mass resistance, they think, will alienate that crucial Trump voter who may return to the party.

Ranking ’90s film soundtrack top tens, America

Fewer soundtrack items charted top ten in the 1990s, but I blame “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” for casting such a pall on the next nine years that contenders hid under tables in terror until, Disney aside, Barbra Streisand did her thing for The Mirror Has Two Faces, co-written and co-sung with…Bryan Adams.

The Hague

Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do It for You (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven (Rush)
UB40 – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Sliver)
Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams – I Finally Found Someone (The Mirror Has Two Faces)
Bryan Adams, Sting, Rod Stewart – All For Love (The Three Musketeers)
Eric Clapton – Change the World (Phenomenon)
Elton John – Can You Feel the Love Tonight (The Lion King)
Gloria Estefan and ‘N Sync – Music of My Heart (Music of My Heart)
Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson – Beauty and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast)


MC Hammer – Addams Groove (The Addams Family)
Janet Jackson – Again (Poetic Justice)
Goo Goo Dolls – Iris (City of Angels)
Vanessa Williams – Colors Of The Wind (Pocahontas)
Roxette – It Must’ve Been Love (Pretty Woman)
Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (Armageddon)
Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You) (Reality Bites)
Sarah McLachlan – Angel (City of Angels)
Whitney Houston – I Have Nothing (The Bodyguard)
Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle – A Whole New World (Aladdin)

Sound, Solid

Color Me Badd – I Wanna Sex You Up (New Jack City)
Tina Turner – I Don’t Wanna Fight (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
Go West – King of Wishful Thinking (Pretty Woman)
Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page – Come With Me (Godzilla)
The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (Benny and Joon)
Céline Dion – My Heart Will Go (Titanic)
Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson – The Best Things in Life Are Free (Mo’ Money)
Prince – Thieves in the Temple (Graffiti Bridge)
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You (The Bodyguard)
Madonna – This Used to Be My Playground (A League of Their Own)

Good to Great

Warren G featuring Nate Dogg – Regulate (Above the Rim)
Brandy – Sittin’ Up in My Room (Waiting to Exhale)
Maxwell – Fortunate (Life)
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game (Wild at Heart)
Mary J. Blige – Not Gon’ Cry (Waiting to Exhale)
Whitney Houston – Exhale (Shoop) (Waiting to Exhale)
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (Wayne’s World)
Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
Madonna – I’ll Remember (With Honors)
Whitney Houston – I’m Every Woman (The Bodyguard)

Ranking ’80s film soundtrack top tens, America

A Star is Born and especially Saturday Night Fever may have introduced record execs to the financial possibilities of the soundtrack, but the concept took off in the eighties. Footloose, Beverly Hills Cop, and goddamn Dirty Dancing made multi-artist albums the norm, and of course Prince scored a coup by himself (Purple Rain, Under the Cherry Moon).  Strange pairings were the norm. If you thought Ann Wilson and Mike Reno, or Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin had no right to share a microphone, then I hope you understand that Sylvester Stallone had no right to share camera space with anyone but himself. Continue reading

Eddie Money — RIP

“I’m gonna take you on a trip so far from here/I’ve got two tickets in my pocket, now baby, we’re gonna disappear,” the late Eddie Money promised on his signature hit “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Laugh if you will, but “Two Tickets to Paradise” is a meathead’s “Born to Run,” written by the son of a cop who wouldn’t know a polysyllabic word if it came wrapped in a bottle of Jack Daniels. Maybe the two tickets in his pocket are condoms — would it surprise you? During the Carter era, Edward Joseph Mahoney churned out a string of AOR smashes: “Baby Hold On,” “Maybe I’m a Fool,” “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.” Despite the bluster those titles and his husky howl exposed him as a lovelorn chump who wants marriage, commitment, and the other things he learned in Brooklyn. Eddie would do whatever if you asked him nicely, including wearing a New Wave skinny tie because why not.

Paradise got more expensive as the eighties dawned. Other than “Shakin’” and “Think I’m in Love,” the exquisitely titled No Control (produced by Tom Dowd!) marked the beginning of a commercial downturn. Then Money released “Take Me Home Tonight” in the summer of 1986: a song that flaunted its recycled parts with all of Money’s blowzy confidence. No one would’ve cared had another singer with a voice as ragged as Eddie’s but as committed to received emotions not belted “Be My Baby” as the chorus ended. Ronnie Spector, take a bow, for her appearance on “Take Me Home Tonight” remains one of the era’s more addled moments and a sure sign that the boomers were going to temper the years of their obsolescence into terrifying swords. Its parent album Can’t Go Back proved a quiet blockbuster: two heavily played followups (the wistful “I Wanna Go Back” and “Endless Nights”) that refashioned him into a second-string MTV presence through the grunge era. Remember “Walk on Water”? “Peace in Our Time” (quieter than a Big Country single with which it shares a title)? “The Love in Your Eyes”? Top thirties all, with “Walk on Water” his second of two career top tens.

As late as 1991’s “I”ll Get By” Eddie was still $$. Then commercial death came to Eddie Money, as it must to all men. Average talent and looks weren’t enough in a new era in which the zippy and the dippy mattered less than the projections of angst he had avoided like a bad party. Yet the hits stayed evergreens, as his steady touring on the oldies circuit proved. He even starred in his own reality show. In a Rolling Stone interview last year, Money sounded at peace. “The kids aren’t in jail, they’re not in rehab, nobody’s wrecked the car this week and there’s still milk in the refrigerator. I’m having a good month.” Savor the last sentence — wisdom that eludes greater artists.