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Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts
June 6, 2013 8:16 PM   Subscribe

How to make the biggest hit of all time: Step 1: Get the most successful female act of the 1960s, the Queen of Motown, to write and sing lead. Step 2: Get the biggest selling band of the 1970s, the Kings of Disco, to produce and sing backup. Step 3: Get the biggest selling musical artist of the 1980s, the King of Pop, to co-write the song and share vocals. Step 4: Profit?
posted by flarbuse (23 comments total)

 
Yeah, she should have stuck with the awesome Nile Rodgers.
posted by chococat at 8:22 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did Diana Ross and Michael Jackson actually write it without help from Barry Gibb or someone else? If that's the case, then there's your problem right there.

If you have the brothers Gibb, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson available for a session, you get on the phone to Quincy Jones and have him and Barry Gibb write the song together, then you have Quincy Jones and/or Nile Rodgers produce, have Michael Jackson sing the verses, and have the big hook chorus sung by Diana Ross with Michael Jackson on harmonies. Why, if you have available one of the greatest and most commercially-successful songwriters of all time (Barry Gibb), would you have Diana Ross write the song and not get on the horn to Quincy Jones just for the hell of having him in the room?
posted by The World Famous at 8:36 PM on June 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The song was written by Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Michael Jackson
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 PM on June 6, 2013


The song was written by Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Michael Jackson

Ok, then. At least they didn't miss out on that obvious bit.
posted by The World Famous at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2013


It's funny, I think if you released this in 2013 and said it was by Santigold or Little Dragon, it'd get heavy rotation on KCRW.
posted by mirepoix at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Psh. Put the Daft Punk guys on the album cover and be totally open about the fact that they had nothing to do with the writing, performance, engineering, mixing, mastering, or production, and you'd make millions.
posted by The World Famous at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


that is so terrible on so many levels.
the video kind of sums up the stank.
yes Nile Rogers or Quincy Jones.
in the end it's always about Diana's wig.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:05 PM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nile Rodgers wasn't doing jack in the mid-80s, so he wasn't really available, and most producers from the 70s and early 80s did not fare well in the advent of the sampler and drum machine. Michael needed Quincy to guide him into the modern era, after all, and Quincy was smart enough to have a stable of younguns. It's simply not how they learned to make music, so you get a bunch of 60-70s people together with a bunch of money and electronics and it just turns to shit. Have you heard PJ Proby's rap album?
posted by rhizome at 9:05 PM on June 6, 2013


Are you kidding?
Rodgers was fucking everywhere in the mid-80's. I'd start listing hit albums but it's too many.
posted by chococat at 9:18 PM on June 6, 2013


Nile Rodgers wasn't doing jack in the mid-80s

1983 - Produced David Bowie's Let's Dance album. Bowie's most commercially-successful album.

1984 - Produced Madonna's Like A Virgin album.

1985 - Produced albums for Sheena Easton, Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, and several others, and performed at Live Aid.

1986 - Produced Duran Duran's Notorious album, yielding a No. 2 hit. Also produced albums for Grace Jones, Phillip Bailey, and Al Jarreau and performed on "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood and played on albums by Cindy Lauper, Howard Jones, and David Sanborn.

1988 - Composed the orchestral soundtrack for the film Coming To America and then soundtracks for White Hot and Earth Girls Are Easy.

1989 - Produced the B-52s multi-platinum album Cosmic Thing and produced Diana Ross' Workin' Overtime album.

In 1989 and early 1990, he was also busy producing Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan's Family Style album.

In the early 90s, he produced Bowie, Clapton, the B-52s, David Lee Roth, Ric Ocasek, Patty Griffin, The Stray Cats, and did the soundtracks for several movies, including Thelma and Louise.

I guess he was doing a personal experimental band project thing in 1987, so maybe that can be characterized as "not doing jack." But to say the guy who produced Like A Virgin and The Reflex didn't fare well in the advent of the sampler and drum machine is sort of maybe incorrect, I think.
posted by The World Famous at 9:20 PM on June 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well that's weird, it didn't come up for me. Obviously WP should be my first stop in the future.

Regardless, have you heard "Notorious?" He would have produced something that sounded remarkably similar to this anyway.
posted by rhizome at 9:21 PM on June 6, 2013


I'm not that surprised the song is so weird. Putting aside all of the personal issues, even the narrative of Michael Jackson as the "Heal the World," chimp-toting, gentle pop genius is problematic at best. "Eaten Alive" isn't even that weird for a guy who had hits about monsters, gangs, denying a paternity claim, ghosts, vendettas, gangsters, stalkers, etc.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2013


Didn't have a hook. Game over.
posted by unSane at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, it really sounded like D Ross trying to sing an M Jackson song... All those staccato little phrases that never let her open up the trademark pipes. I think if Jacko had sung it, it might possibly have been a hit, although the lack of a compelling hook (and the length of time before you got to what hook there was) would probably have been fatal anyway.
posted by unSane at 10:19 PM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


the Kings of Disco

For people who didn't actually go clubbing, perhaps...

For those of us who did -- not so much.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:27 AM on June 7, 2013


PeterMcDermott: the Kings of Disco

For people who didn't actually go clubbing, perhaps...

For those of us who did -- not so much.
And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the rare "disco hipster".
posted by IAmBroom at 3:37 AM on June 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


It's funny, I think if you released this in 2013 and said it was by Santigold or Little Dragon, it'd get heavy rotation on KCRW.

You didn't hear that Santigold has re-recorded this for the soundtrack to "World War Z"?
posted by jeremias at 4:05 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the greatest Female Artists of the 60s link, I see Nico is at number 17, ahead of Dionne Warwick, Lulu and Gladys Knight. Much as I love the Velvets, I am surprised by this.

Gladys Knight - Heard It Through the Grapevine - sounds fantastic, looks fantastic, and its on Soul Train
posted by marienbad at 4:46 AM on June 7, 2013


Diana doing Michael's, "I Want Muscles." Stinky, as Q referred to him, wrote and produced the track. I remember this was the cause of 'is he gay' murmurs. Well, that and a lot of other things. But this track was a hit and much more together than the FPP's.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:43 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Supposedly that track is named after MJ's pet snake, Muscles.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:58 AM on June 7, 2013


And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the rare "disco hipster".

Ever hear of Northern Soul? This is exactly that, mildly updated.
posted by Wolof at 7:05 AM on June 7, 2013


Queen of Motown? I believe you are confused. Aretha is the Queen of Soul.
posted by theora55 at 1:31 PM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq! I remember him claiming that or some spokesperson doing so...
I always thought Michael was just so damn gifted he could write from any perspective, especially from Diana's. He always referred to her as his other mother.
posted by artof.mulata at 10:32 PM on June 11, 2013


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