With this new take on the Wham! — which oddly enough reached #1 on the charts for the first time in January this year, more than three decades after it was first released — Lunar Vacation joins a long line of musicians that have covered this more recent addition to the holiday canon. That list includes Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Eat World, Taylor Swift and Gwen Stefani, among others.
The song was written, produced and performed by a 21-year-old George Michael, who insisted on playing every musical instrument on the track. Given the precocious early beginnings of Lunar Vacation’s songwriter/vocalist/guitarists Grace Repasky and Maggie Geeslin, who first met in eighth grade, we think Michael, who died suddenly on Christmas Day in 2016 at the age of 53, would probably be pretty tickled to see this.
Fans who missed Lunar Vacation’s Shaky Knees set this year will have another chance when the band kicks off a new tour in January. They’ll be making a stop back on home turf on February 18 at Masquerade (Hell).
BOREGARD: “Beyoncé Knows”
Atlanta’s wordplay wizard and rapscallion of rap, BOREGARD, aka Bockarie Amara, is back with a cheeky new full-scale video to go with a song that’s not entirely new but has gotten a breath of new life.
The Henry County native first released “Beyoncé Knows,” which of course gives a nod to goddess-on-Earth Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, as a single ahead of the release of his album, Silence of the Lamb, at the end of 2019. (That LP also included the snap-crackle-popping single “Breakfast,” which managed to rhyme Tetris, foot fetish and breakfast.)
This was just before the pandemic hit, and therefore, the tune never quite got its full chance to shine. Now, with the new video, BOREGARD has put all the oomph and chutzpah behind the second go-round, with a special video premiere viewing party at Clothing Warehouse in Little Five Points for the occasion and a line of merchandise that includes the “Bo Bundle” with hats, bags, masks, etc.
In the video, “Bo” gets to portray with relish a full-on prima-donna photographer. This includes a very Tenacious D-like couple of sketches as prologue and epilogue, which harken back to the good old days when music videos were at least five minutes longer than the actual songs themselves. Stay tuned till the end, when you’ll get to hear the dramatic crescendo of the satirical story arc, with Bo deadpanning: “I mean, a lot of genius goes misunderstood these days, and I think that’s something you’re overlooking . . . I don’t know if you know this but, I cried.”
Toni Braxton featuring Shaggy: “Christmas in Jamaica”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . to revisit how weird the turn of the millennium was in pop music. Grammy Award-winning Toni Braxton, known for her radio dominance in the mid-’90s with humongous hits “Un-Break My Heart” and “You’re Makin’ Me High,” embarked on the path to stardom after she was discovered by L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds while singing with her sisters in The Braxtons.
She signed with Atlanta’s then-burgeoning LaFace Records, where she was appointed the “First Lady of LaFace,” and moved to Atlanta in 1991. Sadly, things didn’t go smoothly the whole way through with the record company. There were disputes over her contract and she eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1998.
Still, it was an enormously successful period in her career, as she starred on Broadway as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and the title role in Aida. And she released the 2001 Christmas album, Snowflakes, which included numerous writing team-ups (including one with the late, great Isaac Hayes) as well as our Vintage Track of the Week, “Christmas in Jamaica.”
And then there’s the Shaggy side of things. This song was recorded at the pinnacle of the “It Wasn’t Me” vocalist’s popularity worldwide. Admittedly, his contributions here mainly consist of chiming in with complementary mumbles throughout, almost like a family member who’s had too much “real” eggnog on a holiday Zoom call. But these two distinct voices combined with the prominent beat is weirdly comforting, like slipping into a warm, familiar old robe that smells specifically like Y2K.
Shaggy has since cultivated a close camaraderie with none other than Sting, with whom he collaborated on the Grammy winner for 2018’s 44/876. That effort won Best Reggae Album in 2019. He has also devoted himself to significant philanthropic efforts like a recent drive to raise money for a children’s hospital in Jamaica. Now, if that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, nothing will!