The Goddess of Pop (and rap), rarely seen post-punk legends, a trumpeter to the stars and Melbourne’s own triumphant kings of humid dance floors are heating up stages across the city for the beginning of spring.
In a glittering five-decade career it’s amazing to think that Cher’s most lasting mark on popular music is likely in the world of rap and R’n’B. That’s right, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Future – all of these rap stars are indebted to Cher. And in a youth obsessed music industry it’s even more remarkable that the source of that influence stems from a song she released at 52 years of age.
When Cher released Believe in 1998 it became (and remained) the American singer’s biggest hit. But more importantly it was one of the first commercial recordings to use the new pitch correction software Auto-Tune. The software was really designed to subtly help a singer achieve perfect pitch, but Believe’s producers cranked the function to purposefully artificial levels.
Looking back, the song’s arrival in 1998 – right on the cusp of the Internet bursting into widespread use – feels like the harbinger of a post-human world in which the boundaries between the digital and physical have become increasingly hard to decipher. Some critics howled that Auto Tune was just a sneaky cover up for bad singing, but other more creative individuals saw it as simply another tool to create weird and wonderful art.
So thank you Cher for I Got You Babe, Take Me Home and Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). But most importantly, thank you for Believe, because without that song we wouldn’t have I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper) 2 – Tha Remix.
Cher plays at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday October 3, Friday October 5 and Saturday October 6. Tickets here.
A Total Giovanni show is a sensual experience. The band’s flowing shirts are unbuttoned low. There are stubbled jaw lines and waxed chests. And lots of sweat. The onstage humidity quickly transfers from the stage to the crowd. Stationary hips don’t stand a chance here.
The band’s over the top performances can feel joyously silly and its mix of boogie, disco, electro and yacht rock could easily tip over into dangerous levels of pastiche if it weren’t for the sincerity of delivery and purity of the dance floor ecstasy.
When Total Giovanni started playing their first shows four years ago the band seemed to arrive fully formed which has made the wait for their debut album seem unusually long. But finally, Euphoria is out this month. It’s full of cheeky winks to cosmic disco, springy bass lines and Balearic guitars. If you don’t find yourself dancing to one of the album’s tracks this summer, something’s gone horribly wrong.
Total Giovanni sold out their first Melbourne show before it had even been officially announced. Get in quick for the second show.
Total Giovanni play the Croxton on Thursdya November 1 and Friday November 2. Tickets here.
When you think of British post-punk, the first thing that comes to mind is Joy Division’s Ian Curtis jerking around on stage and his tragic death by suicide. Or maybe it’s an image of Morrissey from the Smiths earnestly railing against the depression of Thatcher’s Britain with a tree lodged in his belt.
But amongst the gloom, the genre also contained some truly joyous moments. Chiefly among them is the song Uncertain Smile by The The who are playing at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival. Appearing on The The’s debut album Soul Mining, the song is a rhythmic and tonal odyssey that opens with rapidly bubbling xylimba (an instrument similar to a marimba), strings synthesised on a Synclavier rise behind a thick bass line and strummed guitars before the song climaxes with a mind altering piano solo. The song’s a joyous masterpiece of invention and virtuosity. The The – essentially a solo project of Matt Johnson – retained that sense of adventure across all of its subsequent releases including its most commercially successful album Infected.
As well as being hard to pin down online thanks to the world’s most unsearchable band name, The The have also rarely appeared down under. The band hasn’t played in Melbourne since 1989 and the current tour is the first time the band has played live since 2002.
The The play at the Arts Centre Melbourne on Thursday October 4 and Friday October 5. Tickets here.
Celebrated New York City trumpeter, Maurice Brown, has played on tracks by some of the world's biggest artists, from jazz greats including Wynton Marsalis, to singers John Legend and the late-great Aretha Franklin, pop bands such as Florence and the Machine, and huge hip-hop acts the Roots, Pharrell Williams, and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. Soon Brown will headline the jazz-focussed NGV Friday Nights line-up.
Brown’s own compositions are a mix of his traditional jazz chops and modern hip-hop influences. The track Moroccan Dancehall from his 2017 album The Mood bears more than a passing resemblance to Missy Elliott’s Get Ur Freak On, and Stand Up features a guest verse from celebrated New York City MC Talib Kweli.
Brown grew up in Chicago, which he says gave him his avant-garde sensibilities, but he also honed his chops in some of America’s other great jazz towns including New Orleans (the genre’s birthplace) and New York City. He says live trumpet battles in New Orleans taught him to hold nothing back, and New York refined his influences.
He may have worked with some of the biggest names in music – including soon to be released recordings with Chance the Rapper – but Brown still feels his real home is improvising live on stage, in that exhilarating moment when an artist’s soul and creativity is laid bare and left to chance. For Broadsheet's full interview with Maurice Brown, click here.